A lot can happen to a daydreaming girl in the world, and in the last few years, it's all happened for Florence. The debut album she dreamt up in her bedroom in South London burst into being and swept the planet, selling over three million copies, winning the coveted Brits 'Best Album' award and etching itself indelibly into the popular consciousness. Now she has been everywhere: the girl has seen the world and the world has seen the girl. And after months of laying low on home turf, writing and recording in the London she’s long been in love with, Florence returns with her triumphant second album. Ceremonials is a stunningly accomplished record by an artist teetering on the wind-blown top of her game, an extraordinary testament to what Florence refers to as “my incorrigible maximalism”. The pounding epiphanic positivism of ‘Spectrum’; the galloping massed-ranks majesty of ‘All This And Heaven Too’ and ‘Shake It Out’; the triumphant emotional battle cries of ‘No Light No Light’ and ‘Heartlines’. Spend a little time with Ceremonials and what strikes you first and foremost is the apparent confidence of its execution.
“This is the first time I’ve made a record with a sort of overarching, cohesive sound” says Florence: “It’s a proper studio album in that sense: a group of songs that paint a unified picture of where I am in my life right now.”
Recorded with her full band over five weeks this summer in Abbey Road's legendary Studio 3, Ceremonials is another product of her long-running collaboration with producer Paul Epworth. Together they’ve created an expansive art-pop vision that can be both captivatingly tender while still frequently soaring to places where it can overwhelm the senses like an emotive tidal wave. It’s a rich tapestry that unpicks the conventions of classic pop, shoots them through a black hole and reconstitutes them into a multi-layered, future-primitive stomp. And underpinning it all, Florence's beguiling, epic vocals. A mature masterpiece that confirms its creator is in for the long haul.
“I feel like it’s a record made by someone becoming a woman, becoming a grown-up. And it’s about all the problems that go hand-in-hand with that” says Florence. “Lungs was very much the work of someone wrestling with sort of simultaneously being a teenager and being an adult. This is the work of someone who’s trying to grow up I guess? But probably failing.”