It was a highly tempting offer. But ultimately not quite tempting enough.
Such is the confession of Florence Welch, 25, the flame-haired siren who fronts Florence & the Machine.
About 18 months ago, when the Grammy Award-nominated Brit was in the early stages of prepping her eagerly anticipated second album, the idea of going to Los Angeles to work with some of the hottest writer/producers on the planet was briefly and tantalizingly dangled before her. She declines to reveal their names, but says the opportunity was one that held an instant attraction.
"I love Lady Gaga, and I love Katy Perry and R&B and rap music," Welch says, the words tumbling from her mouth in rapid succession-like an excited, albeit highly well-spoken teen. "I love big, American pop music. I'm a total sucker for it. So the label said, 'Do you want to go over to America to work in that scene?' And I was like, 'Yeah, OK. Maybe I could bring my own take on it.' It got put in the diary to go out for a week, to start writing the new record. And then the diary got sent to me and I looked at it and just went, 'No. No. No. No. No! I can't do that. This is too weird. I can't just suddenly leave behind everything that made [2009 debut album] 'Lungs.'"
Not for the first time in her life, Florence Leontine Mary Welch -- born in South London in 1986 to Evelyn Welch, a professor, and Nick Welch, an advertising executive -- choose to follow her heart over her head; her natural instinct over cold-hearted commercialism. Not for the first time, it has paid off handsomely.
Titled "Ceremonials" and due Oct. 31 worldwide on Island Records/Universal (except for North America, where it will debut Nov. 1 on Universal Republic), Florence & the Machine's second studio set is a muscular, hugely ambitious and achingly beautiful work that takes its predecessor's sonic blueprint (soaring vocals, ethereal gospel choirs, mystical harps and pounding tribal drums) and fires it to the stars. Produced by Paul Epworth, currently riding high with his work on Adele's all-conquering "21" (XL Recordings/Columbia), the 12-track record could accurately be described as a more confident, bigger and better version of the celebrated Lungs.
That set went on to sell 3.5 million units worldwide, according to Universal. Domestic sales stand at 738,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan, with the album's breakout track, "Dog Days Are Over," peaking at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and racking up 1.8 million downloads. In the United Kingdom, Lungs won the 2010 BRIT Award for British album and has moved 1.4 million units, according to the Official Charts Co. Combined single sales in the United Kingdom total more than 1.2 million units.
As impressive as those numbers are, Universal is optimistic that "Ceremonials" will knock those achievements out of the park. "We've got incredibly high expectations," says Universal Republic president/CEO Monte Lipman, who calls the album one of the fourth quarter's key releases. "She can compete against anybody in the marketplace and that's the way we're treating this. We're giving it everything we've got."
Welch, fresh from a morning jog around her local London park that culminated in the singer pirouetting on a public bench to the delight of bemused onlookers ("I'm more of a balletic runner than athletic," she says with a giggle), offers a more modest assessment.
"I'm excited to play it live but I am nervous about what the reaction to the record is going to be," Welch says. "It's as if the scrapbook of "Lungs" has been given a beginning, middle and an end and made into a whole story. It's taken the sound that I found about halfway through making "Lungs" and really gone with it. I think I have taken it to the apex."
Album review: Florence + the Machine's 'Ceremonials'
Sometimes the toughest challenge for a singer like Florence Welch is to learn how to wield the kind of pulmonary power that can make the heavens quake. On Florence + the Machine’s 2009 debut, the fittingly named “Lungs,” the flame-haired countess of theatrical art-pop voraciously tore into songs with her throaty wail. In wide-screen vistas like “Dog Days Are Over,” Welch would chew scenery while the Machine valiantly toiled to get a musical word in edgewise. For all her prodigious talent, it sometimes didn’t seem Welch was listening to the very song she was singing, she was so busy filling it with noise.
On her follow-up, “Ceremonials,” Welch has struck a fantastic and necessary balance. She’s found a way to honor her Bjorkian appetites for lavish orchestral spectacle while finding the depth and subtlety of her voice. She’s become a better actor, a keener listener and still manages to let it rip on occasion. But she also knows when to hush up, like at the close of “Spectrum,” when Tom Monger’s harp gorgeously flutters and dips around her.
Welch wrote many of the songs on “Ceremonials” with Paul Epworth, Britain’s premier producer who knows a thing or two about working with mighty-piped prodigies. He cowrote and produced “Rolling in the Deep,” a master class in mounting drama, from the chart-topping Adele. The same hush-then-explode dynamics are on display here, with the hypnotizing “Seven Devils” as a spooky stand-out.
But other songwriters know how to mine Welch’s multifaceted voice as well. James Ford, from the purist dance collective Simian Mobile Disco, collaborated with her on “Breaking Down,” which sounds like the final missive of a stir-crazy ice princess from her frozen palace. Welch delivers the phrase “I’m breaking down again” with wicked nonchalance, proof that not every drama needs to be blasted on the big screen to get our attention.
Florence + the Machine
Island Records Three and a half stars (out of four)
So I've heard of Florence + the Machine, but I never gave them a chance, unfortunately. It took The Sing-Off to introduce me. I'm just glad I finally got an introduction. Now here's Pentatonix's rendition of "Dog Days are Over." I don't want to say they're better. Honestly, I like the original as well as this rendition. Both have elements the other lacks, but I guess the original is longer and has that harp playing the whole time, and...is the original So I'll like the original way more
Anywho, I'm a new fan of this band. YAY!
Originally Posted by Saybrooke
I was at the gym once, and this woman was on the elliptical next to me, making motorcycle noises.
» 4/14 -- Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl
» 4/15 -- Indio, CA @ Coachella
» 4/17 -- Reno, NV @ Grand Sierra Resort
» 4/18 -- Davis, CA @ Mondavi Center at UC Davis
» 4/20 -- Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre
» 4/21 -- Las Vegas, NV @ The Cosmopolitan
» 4/22 -- Indio, CA @ Coachella
» 4/27 -- Minneapolis, MN @ Hennepin Theatre
» 4/28 -- Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Ballroom
» 4/29 -- St. Louis, MO @ Peabody Opera House
» 5/1 -- Dallas, TX @ Palladium Ballroom
» 5/2 -- Houston, TX @ Verizon Wireless Theatre
» 5/3 -- New Orleans, LA @ New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
» 5/8 -- New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
» 5/11 -- Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Arena
» 5/12 -- Atlantic City, NJ @ Borgata Event Center
I have to admit, I loved Lungs - saw Florence live and she was brilliant.
Because of all that I bought Ceremonials as soon as it came it out - and I still haven't been able to listen to it all the way through in one sitting. While there are a couple of tracks that I do quite like it just seems too lush, too many multi-layered vocals, too over produced - Actually I haven't really wanted to listen to it.
Somehow it seems as if she has lost her 'edge' and replaced it with way to many production frills instead. I wish she had just let her natural voice do the talking - I already lived through one era of over produced pretentious music - and it almost seems like we are heading there again.
Recorded late last year in New York, the acoustic session features a selection of Florence’s best-known songs, plus covers of a pair of classics in ‘Jackson’ (formally performed by Johnny Cash and June Carter, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood and more), and ‘Try a Little Tenderness’.
For the Jackson cover, Florence is joined by fellow redhead Josh Homme of Kyuss / Queens of the Stone Age fame. "
MTV Unplugged – A Live Album' will be available on CD, Deluxe CD/DVD and as a digital download; stay tuned for pre-order details coming soon.
1. Only If For A Night
2. Drumming Song
3. Cosmic Love
4. Breaking Down
5. Never Let Me Gov 6. Try A Little Tenderness
7. No Light No Light
8. Jackson (feat. Josh Homme)
9. What The Water Gave Me
10. Dog Days Are Over
11. Shake It Out
Sunday night, MTV aired Florence & The Machine Unplugged, where the English outfit performed twelve songs from both their albums, Lungs and Ceremonials. On top of delving into their own music, the band performed covers of both Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness" and Johnny Cash and June Carter's "Jackson," which was aided by Queens of the Stone Age vocalist Josh Homme. Head over to MTV.com to watch the entirety of the live performance.
05-08 New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall *
05-11 Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun Arena *
05-12 Atlantic City, NJ - Borgata Spa & Resort Event Center *
05-17 Perth, Australia - Burswood Dome *
05-20 Melbourne, Australia - Rod Laver Arena *
05-22 Adelaide, Australia - Entertainment Centre *
05-24 Sydney, Australia - Entertainment Centre *
05-25 Sydney, Australia - Sydney Opera House (Vivid Festival)
05-26 Brisbane, Australia - Riverstage *
05-28 Auckland, New Zealand - Vector Arena *
06-22 Scheessel, Germany - Hurricane Festival
06-23 Neuhausen, Germany - Southside Festival
06-24 London, England - Hackney Weekend
06-29 St. Gallen, Switzerland - Open Air
06-30 Arras, France - Main Square Festival
07-01 Werchter, Belgium - Rock Werchter
07-06 Balado, Scotland - T in the Park
07-08 Dublin, Ireland - Phoenix Park
07-12 Benicassim, Spain - Benicassim Festival
07-14 Lisbon, Portugal - Optimus Alive
07-20 Burnaby, British Coumbia - Deerlake Park
07-21 Auburn, WA - White River Amphitheater
07-22 Troutdale, OR - Edgefield
07-25 Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheater
07-27 Somerset, WI - Soundtown Festival
07-29 Indianapolis, IN - The Lawn At White River State Park
07-30 Cleveland, OH - Jacobs Pavilion At Nautica
07-31 Detroit, MI - Fox Theater
08-02 West Toronto, Ontario - Molson Amphitheater
08-03 Montreal, Quebec - Osheaga Festival
08-05 Chicago, IL - Lollapalooza
08-08 Oslo, Norway - Řya Festival
08-09 Gothenburg, Sweden - Way Out West Festival
08-22 Belfast, Northern Ireland - Tennent's Vital
08-25 Reading, England - Reading Festival
08-26 Leeds, England - Leeds Festival
09-14 Mansfield, MA - Comcast Center #
09-15 Wantagh, NY - Nikon at Jones Beach Theater #
09-16 Saratoga Springs, NY - Saratoga Performing Arts Center #
09-18 Camden, NJ - Susquehanna Bank Center #%
09-19 Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion #%
09-21 Raleigh, NC - Raleigh Amphitheatre #
09-22 Atlanta, GA - Music Midtown
09-23 Pensacola, FL - DeLuna Fest
09-25 Tampa Bay, FL - USF Sun Dome #
09-26 Sunrise, FL - BankAtlantic Center #
10-01 Kansas City, MO - Starlight Theater #
10-04 San Diego, CA - Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre #%
10-05 Mountain View, CA - Shoreline Amphitheatre %
10-07 Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl #%
10-10 Albuquerque, NM - Hard Rock Casino Presents: The Pavilion #
Florence And The Machine, Jack White And Gotye On Great Gatsby LP
4/12/2013 6:45 PM ET
Florence And The Machine, Jack White and Gotye are among those featured on the soundtrack to the remake of The Great Gatsby. The full track list for the album, produced by Jay-Z, was released earlier this week.
Flo and the gang add "Over the Love," while White offers his cover of U2's "Love Is Blindess." Gotye has "Heart's a Mess" on the ST.
Other artists contributing tracks include Lana del Rey ("Young and Beautiful"), Bryan Ferry ("Love Is the Drug"), Emeli Sande ("Crazy in Love") Jigga ("100$ Bill"), will.i.am ("Bang Bang") and Beyoncé with Andre 3000 doing their cover of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black."
The soundtrack is due May 7 with a deluxe edition featuring three bonus tracks hitting Target the same day. The movie is due May 10.
I heard Ceremonials first and then got both albums. I think I like Lungs a little more. Both albums are about the same quality, IMO, but I think the track ordering gives Lungs the edge because the better songs are spread throughout the entire album while most of Ceremonials's better songs are toward the front. Still my favorite songs from each one ("Rabbit Heart" and "No Light, No Light") are about even to me.
Hell yeah. Here is an exclusive stream of Florence and the Machine's "Over the Love," the band's contribution to the excellent Jay-Z executive-produced Great Gatsby soundtrack. Based on what we recall from SparkNotes, this tremendous tune seems to be written from the perspective of Daisy, Gatsby's lifelong crush. Classic symbols from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel are threaded throughout, from Daisy's yellow dress to the green light that hovers outside her home on the dock in East Egg. The real giveaway, though, is the line, "'Cause you're a hard soul to save with an ocean in the way, but I'll get around it." Across the Long Island Sound in West Egg, as you'll soon learn from Baz Luhrmann's upcoming adaptation, is where Gatsby awaits her company. Anyway, this song rocks. Listen to it below: