Only The Sangfroid

Mark is of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. He does live in an ivory tower.

These are his draft thoughts…

And it’s a conversation I just can’t have tonight… Florence and the Machine ‘Ceremonials’

I promised myself that I wouldn’t dislike this album.

It’s so cliche and faux-intellectual.  ‘Oh, dear.  Their debut album was sooooo good and this just isn’t nearly as good.  They should have done the same thing they did in their first album.’

The sentiment, I am sure, originates from the same hipster bullcrappery as ‘I knew them before everybody else knew them’.  The new is never as good as the old.  The popular is never as good as the obscure.

But, holy Zeusidon, I’m having a lot of difficulty liking the new album.

I wasn’t as glowing in praise as everybody else with the original album, Lungs.  Sure, there were some amazing songs on that album.  Even songs which didn’t become singles were powerful contests between the Florence’s voice and the Machine’s beats.  The lyrics were clever, flirting between playful and profound.  Waves of sound would crash chaotically in that haphazard way that only happens when the musicians are firmly in control.

But there were some real dog songs on that album.  I routinely skip ‘Kiss with a Fist’ and ‘Girl with One Eye’ because they suck.  There is no excuse for how bad they are and the rest of the album is so good that it makes their mediocrity all the more inexcusable.

Ceremonials is an album of ‘Kiss with a Fist’ and ‘Girl with One Eye’ songs.  One song is obviously out of tune; another is littered with flatly dumb lyrics.  It’s as if they were too busy rolling around in their mountains of money to be bothered writing anything decent.  ‘Don’t worry,’ you can hear somebody in the band management say, ‘No matter what you produce, people will buy it.  They will eat your shit sandwich and call it a banquet.’

It feels as if there has been a change in the creative engine of the band.  Lungs had songs written by most of the band and was produced collaboratively.  Ceremonials was produced by Paul Epworth alone, and most of the songs are Florence Welch and Paul Epworth affairs.  The only good songs on Ceremonials are the progeny of other members of the band.  The superb ‘No Light, No Light’ is a co-creation of Isabella Summers who was behind all the best songs on Lungs (with the exception of ‘The Drumming Song’).

In short, Lungs wasn’t as good as people remember it being.  People remember the really good stuff on that album and forget the occasional mutant horror.  The variety on the album befuddled the audience, like genetic diversity in a population makes the species more resistant.  Ceremonials has very little diversity.  The same producer throughout and mostly Welch-Epworth creations means that it catches some crippling disease in the first song and the rest of the album crashes with it.

In short, get the new Like a Version album instead.  Holy crap, it’s good.

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