Review of Florence + The Machine - High As Hope by Thomas Bleach
It's hard not to be in love with Florence + The Machine. The enchanting singer-songwriter has made a career out of transporting you to a magical place of hope, heartbreak and empowerment. Her fourth studio album 'High As Hope' hears her continuing this trend with a collection of 10 beautiful and minimalist songs that captivate you with their soaring melodies and raw vocal delivery. This is by far her most organic sounding record with the lead single 'Hunger' being one of the only 'blood pumping anthem' in amongst songs of pure emotion, hope and self discovery. Opening track 'June' is the perfect introduction to the record. It was the first song she wrote for the album after finishing her last world tour. It looks at the need for human connection and feeling like we are losing it. It's a raw song that is honest and has a grand cinematic feel with its bold piano accompaniment along with percussion and strings that cement the desperate phrase "hold onto each other" into your mind. 'South London Forever' continues this cinematic landscape that tells the story of the past nine years where she has blinked and had this out of this world experience of life but still questioning all the little things in life. "And I don't know anything. Except that green is so green and there's a special kind of sadness that seems to come with spring". She then breaks it down for the brassy 'Big God' which embodies a lot of percussion along with big harmonies and a whole lot of heart. Opening with dramatic keys this mellow song transforms throughout its 4 minute duration and takes you on a journey of self discovery. During the final chorus she has what the best way to explain is a half vocal excorcism where she groans and while it may be slightly off putting it also makes the song even more melodramatic. 'Sky Full Of Song' hears her breaking it down even more with a simple piano ballad that looks at the craving you have for someone to just hold you and be fully in the moment with you. She then apologises to her sister on 'Grace' for being problematic over the years and feeling like she was immature and not reliable. It's a really sad but sweet moment that hears her opening up and being honest in a completely different way. Kicking up the volume on 'Patricia' and '100 Years' she delivers the energy that thrived on 'Hunger' and will ignite her live shows. Whilst 'The End Of Love' and 'No Choir' close the album with intimate and soft ballads about dealing with other types of love and embracing happiness in all forms.
'High As Hope' is a collection of honest and emotional alternative-pop songs that some may see as her playing safe but others will see as her being true to herself. This is a genuine and classic Florence + The Machine record. She's not trying to be anyone she's not and I love that. It embodies all the elements that you love about her and shows an incredible and raw vulnerability. I do wish this album was slightly longer and incorporated a few more 'Hunger' inspired anthems to empower us even further. But her magical vocals along with these intimate story lines will still have you captivated from start to finish.
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