Florence + The Machine - High as Hope - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Florence + The Machine - High as Hope

by Brian Thompson Rating:7 Release Date:2018-06-29
Florence + the Machine - High as Hope
Florence + the Machine - High as Hope

High as Hope, the fourth Florence + the Machine studio album, boasts a complex, expansive sound that fills every moment of its runtime, even in its aesthetic devotion to tasteful minimalism. Here, Florence Welch has enlisted a wide array of collaborators, with input from Kamasi Washington, Jamie xx, and Father John Misty, just to name a few. She continues to experiment with the incredible range of her powerhouse voice, but also with its limitations. A restrained, controlled effort, this isn’t the bombastic force that was Lungs. Instead, Welch reigns in the vibrato, building trust with the listener through sheer authenticity as she taps into personal experiences in a more vulnerable way than we’ve seen in the past.

The record’s deliberate production understands the importance of both deafening energy and meditative silence, as the record seamlessly shifts between thunderous, gospel rock anthems (“Patricia”)  and stripped down, resonant ballads (“June”). At once, High as Hope evokes the presence of varied influences, from Prince to Kate Bush. Though, the record isn’t without its indulgences. Welch truly lets loose, with splendor and life bursting forth on tracks like the impassioned lead single “Hunger,” a show-stopping confessional about the destructive force of an eating disorder.

High as Hope is an album that picks apart nostalgia, looking to the past with the fondness of memory but also the wisdom of hindsight. Welch even relays messages to her younger self, as on "South London Forever," where she reminisces about the uninhibited days of adolescent discovery, in both its wild passion and its ill-formed notions of maturity. She also aims to smooth over familial wounds on tracks like “Grace,” as she apologizes to her sister for the sibling contentions of their youth. Through these proclamations, Welch is able to trace her growth, as well as chart the emotional benchmarks she’s yet to reach.

A potently intimate record, High as Hope finds Florence Welch truly exposing herself, moving beyond the trials and triumphs of romantic love in order to examine the unwavering roots of self-perception. A Florence + the Machine album could easily pander to the established fanbase, but this one proves itself to be comfortable taking risks, most of which pay off in spades. As Welch reminds us on the album’s haunted, piano-driven closer, “No Choir,” “I gathered you here to hide from some vast unnameable fear.” While she struggles to describe these unrelenting insecurities, she is making some of her most confident music to date.

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