As many Florence + the Machine fan will think, a listen to any of their songs feels like listening to poetry being read aloud. They’ve always been known to write about personal experiences in poetic and metaphoric manners, but the London band continues to seek out deeper, more personal ways to relate their messages. The ethereal listening experience of associated is more apparent than ever on their latest project, High as Hope. High as Hope is Florence + the Machine’s fourth studio album and follows closely on the success of their third album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.
The first and most noticeable trend on this album is the minimalism on the production side. Though this can often be a risk for many artists, sometimes representing a lack of musical creativity and sense, it is clearly an artistic choice to give way to the centerpieces of this album, the lyricism and vocals of lead singer Florence Welch. This does not mean, however, that the production and instrumentals are lacking in anyway. The simple marcato percussion and nuanced horns and woodwinds give an epic and eerie tone that reverberates throughout the album and gives a strong theme to match the lyricism. Nearly every track’s instrumental can be easily picked apart by ear on a first listen, but the lyricism is what truly sticks out.
Florence tackles subjects such as loneliness, the need to fill voids, regrets, family, depression, and moving on, all in the confined space of a slim ten tracks. Lead single “Hunger” has the opening lines of “At 17 I started to starve myself,” which is a reference to Florence’s body dysmorphia issues that she has never spoken about before, not even to her own mother. The specificity of the lyricism continues throughout the album in tracks like “South London Forever,” “Grace” and “The End of Love” that resemble a peer into the most intimate part of someone’s diary. The majority of the project gives listeners a desire for some sort of peaceful resolution to Florence’s internal turmoil, but on the final track of the project, “No Choir,” she cannot seem to come to such an answer. To Florence, there is no resolution and no happy ending as of right now. She explains this with the metaphor of “no grand choir to come in;” hope is the only avenue for happiness.
Florence + the Machine have yet again produced another record that is filled to the brim with poignant and wrenching songs and themes, however this time they took their process to another level. This album is a truly great piece of art and only leaves its listeners yearning for more in the future to come.