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And while that venue is often knocked for its booming, detail-abolishing acoustics, and concrete-slab atmosphere, it was a much better fit for Welch, who hopped, ran, and wailed while 3,000 giddy fans looked on, awestruck. According to the NPG, the portrait "signalled a new, sleeker aesthetic for Welch, inspired by Art Deco and early-twentieth-century fashion illustration. Compared to How Big How Blue and the deluxe edition of Lungs this is probably the best I’ve heard her sound on vinyl, lots of depth, very punchy and for the most part this sounds very clear!
I wasn't disappointed at first, but repeated listening does make all the tracks more enjoyable, even one or two I wasn't that keen on initially (Lover to Lover, Spectrum).Welch describes the song as "about seven minutes long and pretty relentless" and also "dancey, but it's also dark as well",  featuring "relentless drums and heavy, droning bass. The band premiered four tracks from the album—"Only If for a Night", " Never Let Me Go", "Heartlines" and " Spectrum"—at The Creators Project, a partnership between Vice and Intel, in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighbourhood on 15 October 2011. Margaret Wappler of the Los Angeles Times found that Welch had "found a way to honor her Bjorkian appetites for lavish orchestral spectacle while finding the depth and subtlety of her voice". It also debuted at number one in Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, and peaked at number six on the US Billboard 200, becoming the band's first top-10 album in the United States. Not audiophile quality, but without a doubt better than the digital versions, which are major loudness war victims (DR 4-6).
Sometimes in the space between the two albums some of the raw edge that you loved so much can get worn off, and songs can move at varying degrees towards the mainstream. First single "Shake It Out", a stadium-willing anthem about getting past one's troubles, sets a new high for this group. The arrangements here are even more richly layered and majestic; they surge with strings and arrive backed by choristers, while the narratives are darker and prioritise the spirit over the corporeal. Michael Hann of The Guardian concluded that the album "always sounds wonderful—producer Paul Epworth has created a warm, soft, four-poster featherbed of sound for Welch to emote over—but it never really satisfies. The song "Strangeness and Charm"—which was ultimately included on the deluxe edition of Ceremonials—was debuted on 2 May 2010 at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, during the band's Cosmic Love Tour.In an interview with The Guardian, she described the album as "much bigger" and categorised its genre as "chamber soul", a mixture of chamber pop and soul.