Pain is never easy to deal with, and regret is perhaps even harder. Bring both together, and you have tragedy. Florence + The Machine's new album High As Hope is painfully honest about loneliness and pain as Florence Welch details her struggles with both.
Hopeless optimism is an inescapable feeling listening to High As Hope. Welch sings with a certain sadness that is both understanding yet wishful, sometimes lost in a dream world and other times trapped in reality. Opening track 'June' opens the record gently, but heavily all the same. The track seems to come right off the heels of their last record, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful as Welch recalls the day after a show the band played in Chicago ("The show was ending and I had started to crack / Woke up in Chicago and the sky turned black"), which occurred on the same day as the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. Welch sings heartbrokenly in the chorus, chanting "I hear your heart beating in your chest / The world slows till there's nothing left... In those heavy days in June, when love became an act of defiance" to both express the pain she felt but the importance of pride and keeping love alive. High As Hope explores love in many different ways, whether as a symbol or looking how it affected them during the last few years. 'The End Of Love,' for example, looks more about how touring affected family life with a necessary but pained delivery while 'Patricia' is more of a celebration of one of Welch's favorite writers.
High As Hope is very minimal, using the impact of the lyrics to fill the gaps in the atmosphere. With dramatic tracks like 'Big God,' the huge vocals and the brooding atmosphere are the center of the song, one aspect functioning off of the other. 'Sky Full Of Song' is much less aggressive, but perhaps just as powerful as Welch seemingly confesses her own regrets and pain with love. '100 Years' takes the best of both, its soft dynamic slowly building with emotion into one of the album's most dramatic and powerful moments. Closing track 'No Choir' strips all extraneous elements from the music and largely just focusses on Welch as she sings above a gentle synth, sweetly bringing the record to a nice yet lonely ending.
Florence + The Machine's new album High As Hope is painfully honest, and full of powerful stories about love and everything about it. From pain to loneliness to acceptance, High As Hope covers it all, and even as lonely as Florence Welch may make out the music to be, there's comfort to be found in the fact that a message resonates in all of these tracks.
Favorite Tracks: 100 Years, Big God
Least Favorite Track: South London Forever
Rating: 75 / 100
Stream or buy High As Hope on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: