Florence and the Machine - High as Hope

Florence and the Machine
High as Hop

High as Hope is a bit of a transitional album for Florence Welch. Having given up drinking and letting much of the excess of her touring life fall away with age this new album, her fourth, shows her moving into a new more bare stage of life. This album isn't soaked with drama and power as much of her music has been and instead we get Florence Welch without the frills, diving into her own personal well being. On "Hunger" she sings "I thought love was in the drugs, but the more I took the more they took away" the realization of looking back on a life that you aren't too proud of. Her voice still soars on these tracks as it always does, but things are stripped down, the arrangements more simple and light. ON songs like "South London Forever" she ponders a life where all the things our parents hopped for are suddenly not there anymore. She even asks "will there be snow" fearing the state of the world after climate change kicks into full gear. It shows the millennial sentiment of unease and a fear that things are done getting better. "Big God" co-written by Jamie xx is this moody sparse track where the piano acts as the driving force. The song, like much of this album, feel rich with meaning and depth, but it lacks anything to hook you in or that makes you want to come back. It is one of those songs that feels important even as she let's her throat sort of girgle at the end, but one you'd be hard pressed to find me listening to again.

Songs like "Grace" have so much really thought out out ideas in them but the emotional release at the end doesn't do the songs slow burn justice. "100 Years" is similar in that it puts this really big and bold sound on the floor with stomping feet, clapping hands and a full chior backing Florence up, but it just builds and builds but never drops anywhere. You are left with all this pent up aggression and no where to place it. So much of the album follows the same pattern as well. Stand up piano, Florence's voice, then some kind of stomping build which flows into more gentle singing. It happens so many times on this album that you feel like you may have gone back or something is shuffling your songs when it shouldn't. There are also more than a few moments where Florence sings these little melodies rather than words, which is in itself fine, but when it happens multiple times of the album it's a little odd. I mentioned transitional at the beginning of this review and it is the thing you are really left with after listening to this album. Florence feels like she is happy and comfortable with her new self, but that self hasn't exactly translated to her music just yet. Only time will tell if she ever squares the two.

5.9 out of 10


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