Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials Turns 10: An Unabashed Work from a Baroque Pop Powerhouse

The band’s sophomore opus offered a symphonic and thematically challenging glimpse into Florence Welch’s heart and mind

Florence and the Machine Ceremonials
Illustration by Steven Fiche

    It’s nearly impossible to exaggerate how quickly and widely Florence + the Machine rose to prominence at the end of the 2000s. Even before their debut LP — 2009’s Lungs — came out, the group had made their mark in the UK, having supported several big acts (such as MGMT, Blur, and Duran Duran). Around the same time, they appeared at major events like Glastonbury Festival 2008, Reading and Leeds Festival 2008, and Shockwaves NME Awards Tour 2009.

    Those opportunities, coupled with coverage from BBC Introducing and a “Critics’ Choice” win at the 2009 Brit Awards, meant that mastermind Florence Welch and company were already surrounded by a ton of praise and pressure when they began working on their first collection.

    Despite the fact that, as she revealed to Billboard in 2011, “huge amounts of media scrutiny” led to her repeatedly “lying, crying on the studio floor,” Lungs was a massive creative and commercial triumph. Its lusciously earnest and multi-stylistic poise rightly earned comparisons to fellow female musicians like Grace Slick, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Björk, and PJ Harvey (though Welch herself cites “male singers” and local “garage punk bands” as her main influences).


    It also sold quite well, reaching No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 14 on the Billboard 200, while numerous outlets — The A.V. Club, The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, Spin, and of course, Consequence — celebrated it. Thus, the stage was set for the then-sextet to make an even bigger impression with Lungs’ successor. Thankfully, Ceremonials, released on October 28th, 2011, did just that.