Florence + The Machine‘s cacophonous new album, Ceremonials, is anything but light, with huge, roaring vastness and a grandness reminiscent of epic movie soundtracks. The new video for “No Light No Light” matches the tone of the song to perfection, with a twisted fairytale storyline, otherworldly, dark magic at play and the dramatic attitudes of the flame-haired Florence Welch. Consuming and pervasive, the song has a certain open-endedness, as if it were constantly chasing an elusive rainbow, racing past blurs of cities and forests on a never-ending mission. This elemental sense of infiniteness is mimicked in the video, with Florence running away from an indefinable pursuer, which is where the song and the video differ — Florence’s reverent, soaring vocals suggest a race towards something, a propelling force, a search and hope, whereas the visual suggests tumult, chaos, evasion and escape from an ambiguous, phantasmal menace.
The video introduces us to three characters: Florence, the beleaguered angel, perhaps fallen from grace in her diaphanous black gown; the voodoo master, a contorting specter, haunting Florence’s every movement as a metaphor of a broken relationship; and the choir of pre-pubescent boys inside a cavernous, medieval church, offering Florence redemption. As the voodoo master torments Florence with pokes and prods, she looks out over the iconic New York skyline, before allowing herself to fall towards the street. Luckily Flo is saved by the boys’ choir, which not only catches her but holds her high above their heads in a Christ-like motif of resurrection. The intention of the video is glaring, and, like the song itself, there are no subtleties.
But there’s still something so alluring about Florence’s desperation, the frantic scream that underlies her huge, controlled vocals, the fear in her face as she bolts through the streets. It’s an intriguing story — from the irreverence of Lungs to the massive scale of Ceremonials, it feels like Florence + The Machine are on somewhat of a journey of self-discovery, and it will be interesting to see where the band settles into a niche. For now, their chosen place is a slightly darker one than before, and the echoing space Ceremonials evokes is of mammoth proportions — if Lungs was birth then Ceremonials is pubescence, and following that trajectory, we can’t wait to see what comes next.
Don’t forget, Florence + The Machines will be joining Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J and Jennifer Hudson on this year’s VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul special, airing on Monday, December 19!