Florence and the Machine

High As Hope

Republic

Aug 06, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

On her fourth album, and first, perhaps, as an international superstar, Florence Welch has decided to strip things back to their essentials. Backing away from the instrumental grandiosity that has characterized parts of her earlier work, Welch is in somber, sober mood here as she reflects poetically, insightfully, often extremely beautifully on the untethered past that informs her current situation.

On "Hunger" she offers "At seventeen I started to starve myself/I thought that love was a kind of emptiness" and "I thought love was in the drugs but the more I took the more I took away"offering the point of view of an older, wiser woman who has learned her lessons the hard way. Of course these moments of profundity are married to a generous, communal chorus that's both soulful and sweepingbut eschews melodrama neatly.

Across the record Welch's voice remains a wonderat one moment a conspiratorial friend, the next a pleading cry from the depths of abandonment. On the glimmering "South London Forever" nostalgia fills her throat as she recalls being "high on E and holding hands with someone that I just met" while on lead single "Sky Full of Song" she's self aware and fearful"Hold me down, I'm so tired now" she sings, "I thought I was flying, but maybe I'm dying tonight."

Careful and restrained on "Grace," a love song to her younger sister, she offers further signifiers of sisterhood on "Patricia" ("You've always been my North Star"), while a heartfelt tribute to her departed grandmother "The End of Love" (at one point the working title for this record) provides perhaps the emotional peak of the album. Melodically reminiscent of "This Woman's Work," Welch truly soars here, heart on sleeve, bruised, in love, and defiantly human.

While there may be no obvious "stadium" moments here to compare with "Ship to Wreck" from 2015's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful or the massive "Shake It Out" from 2011's Ceremonials, aside, perhaps from recent single "Big God," this is a deep well of an album that demands repeated listensthe subtleties and intricacies revealing themselves satisfyingly and sometimes inspiringly as time goes on. (www.florenceandthemachine.net)

Author rating: 7.5/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 7/10



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.