Florence and the Machine continues meteoric rise 

click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
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When we last spoke to the fabulous Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine renown), she’d already begun work on the followup to her international breakthrough “Lungs.” And if fans thought her debut was a heady brew, get ready, she cautioned.

“Because the next one’s even more metaphysical. I guess I want to think about things and themes that are going to be relevant forever. Like death is never not going to be relevant — death is the be-all, end-all, the most important subject since the dawn of time. But you write about things you don’t understand. And someone once said ‘Poets don’t write about what they know — they write about what they don’t know.’”

So what has the Grammy-winning flame-haired diva finally conjured up on her new Paul Epworth-produced, Abbey-Road-recorded “Ceremonials” offering, which arrives next week?

Merely one of the most stunning, and altogether ambitious, records of the year, one that’s been on constant repeat here at the Backstage Pass offices.

Yes, Welch just starred in Karl Lagerfield’s Chanel Show at Paris Fashion Week.

Yes, her new tour wardrobe has been sculpted by none other than Gucci.

But she’s much more than a pretty face. Her otherworldly voice and truly remarkable way with an intellectual hook/lyric combo certify her as a riveting superstar.

“Ceremonials” breaks the sophomore jinx on its majestic opener alone — a symphonic, sweeping stomper called “Only if for a Night,” which combines Joan of Arc mythology with an eerie visit from the spirit of Welch’s late grandmother.

In “What the Water Gave Me,” she welds Frida Kahlo imagery to the stones-in-pockets 1941 suicide of author Virginia Woolf, all to uplifting anthemic effect.

The rest — from the stadium-grand “Shake it Out” and “No Light, No Light” to her first Bic-flicking power ballad “Never Let Me Go” — is sheer sonic bliss, and the kind of carefully-plotted, Spector-dense album you rarely hear any more. The kind you listen to as a whole, from start to finish, for full textural effect, and the perfect creative step forward from “Lungs.”

Don’t believe the hype?

Tune in to “Saturday Night Live” on Nov. 19 when she rattles NBC’s rafters with “Shake It Out” and tell us you’re not caught up in her glorious wake.

Keep up with her meteoric rise at www.florenceandthemachine.net.

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Tom Lanham

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