High As Hope is a direct and affecting work that could very well be the best material Florence + The Machine has produced to date.
With a back catalogue that demonstrates Florence Welch’s panache for the dramatic musical moment, this new album exercises a little more restraint, and the results are quite arresting. Consequently, this collection of songs feels more intimate and immediately engaging. And while the singer’s striking voice has always been a drawcard, the arrangements here make Welch sound even better and are well suited to the confessional subject matter of the material.
Album opener ‘June’ sets the tone well, beginning in hushed vocals with limited instrumentation before building to something more. This leads nicely into the bigger piece, lead single ‘Hunger’, a strangely uplifting reflection on eating disorder.
Other highlights include the beautiful ‘Sky Full of Song’, the brooding atmospherics of ‘Big God’ and ‘Patricia’ that begins sparsely before breaking into the sort of gospel-infused expanse that characterised Welch’s earlier work.
The album then closes in similar soft tones to how it began with the lush strains of ‘No Choir’.
On a side note, it’s also great to hear the brilliance of Kamasi Washington’s saxophone at a few points over the record.
High As Hope is an excellent LP that gets the balance between right between big and small just right
And in exciting news, Florence + The Machine will tour Australia this summer, performing at Adelaide’s Botanic Park on Wednesday 16th January (all ages) with support from Billie Eilish and Marlon Williams.
Tickets and details can be found here.
High As Hope is out now.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor