ALBUM REVIEW: Florence + the Machine // High as Hope

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Related Artists: Banks, Lykke Li, and HAIM
Favorite Picks: “Hunger”, “Big God” and “Patricia”
Rating: 5/5

Florence Welch, lead singer and songwriter of Florence + The Machine, has been known to bring an undisputed power to their past three albums by creating a genre of rock that is majestic and unique. In their newest album, “High As Hope” that was released on June 29th, that power is present and evolving just how Florence has since their first album that was released nine years ago.

The three singles that were released before the full album gave the world a great preview as to what could have been expected on the full album, but even more was gifted to us all. “Sky Full of Song,” released on April 12th, gave the listener a view of Florence’s past which explains where her begging for forgiveness that could be heard throughout their past album “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” comes from. Then, on May 3rd, we heard “Hunger” which describes struggles that hit close to home for many girls in their late teenage years. I believe this is one of the most vulnerable moments on the album and I thank Florence for releasing this beautiful and honest piece, which is by far my favorite single off the album. “Big God,” released just ten days before the full album, describes the feeling of having a hole in the soul and was produced with the help of Jamie XX and Kamasi Washington. The music video for this song is bright and haunting at the same time with animalistic and aggressive dancing choreographed by Akram Khan.

On their first two albums, “Lungs” and “Ceremonials,” the lyrics can be very confusing at first, however, they were both more rock-based albums, especially “Lungs”.  One thing consistent with all the albums are the consistencies with orchestra heavy arrangements and haunting backup vocals. While based on lyrics alone this album is like a prequel to “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” the evolution in style and arrangement is even more beautiful than I expected. This album is by far the most stripped down out of their collection, however, the lyrics are the most powerful and straightforward. Welch’s voice is just as intense as in the past and she pushes herself and makes noises I didn’t even know a human could make in “Big God.” At its core, Welch’s voice/ lyrics steal the show on this album and the chords and harmonies of the Piano add a consistent backbone to every song on the album.

This is an album that displays Welch at her most vulnerable and is unforgettable because of that. As listeners, we get to hear about Welch’s fears and events in her past that have inspired her to share such intimate music with us.  This album marks a new Florence for the world to get to know and I am ecstatic to see this side of her and what other elements of life she inspires us to dig deeper into with her future music.

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