2011 Favorite Albums / 1. Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials

Florence + The Machine Ceremonials

Music Math: Kate Bush + Peter Gabriel + Annie Lennox + David Bowie

Best Tracks: “Only If for a Night,” “Shake It Out,” “What the Water Gave Me,” “Breaking Down,” “No Light, No Light,” “All This and Heaven Too”

Representative Lyrics: “Regrets collect like old friends / here to relieve your darkest moments / I can see no way, I can see no way / And all of the ghouls come out to play”

Notes: Florence + The Machine have done something really significant with this album: they have distilled down the last 30 years of British pop music into a single cohesive disc. The songs have the operatic intensity of Kate Bush, the R&B/soul influence of Annie Lennox, the outerspaceness of David Bowie, and the accessible experimentation of Peter Gabriel, among many other audible influences. The lyrics, of course, are a bit on the maudlin/obtuse end (“What the Water Gave Me” is ostensibly from the perspective of Virginia Woolf just prior to her suicide), but the music is pure anthem. From the opening track’s cascade of tinkling piano and harp, the songs build and build, layering instruments, vocals, and harmonies until they erupt into joyous, defiant, or mournful choruses.

Beau’s Critique: “This album makes me want to commit suicide.”

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