Our ethereal alternative Rock Goddess Florence Welch has returned as Florence + The Machine have just released their 4th studio album "High As Hope." So, where to begin with this new piece of work from Florence? Coming off of the big rock sound of "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful," Florence + The Machine seem to have taken a sharp left turn with "High As Hope." But, it is in a good direction. Their is a definite sense of restraint on this album and instead incorporating big horns and huge guitar riffs, Florence lets her voice be the instrument and shining center of this album. The album is soulful - bordering on what an alternative gospel album might sound like - if you do not find yourself being moved to throw your hands up in praise during "The End Of Love," you need to listen to it on repeat until you feel the spirit.
Each album that Florence + The Machine evokes a cathartic release and her song discography is littered with songs that will strike a deep within you. "High As Hope" is no exception in this regard. Each album Florence Welch makes seems deeply personal and where as "How Big" felt like a huge storm raging on, "Hope" is the sun rising up after the storm. While there is sense of longing in this album as with the previous three, there seems to be renowned sense of hope from the cathartic release. Each song seems to leave us with a lingering message of love and hope.
The album opens with quiet and poetic "June" setting the pace for the album as Florence wails "hold onto each other" as the song builds to a glorious climax. The lead single "Hunger" follows - probably one of the most radio friendly songs that Florence has ever recorded. The three most standout tracks are "Patricia," "Grace," and "The End Of Love." "Patricia" is one of the few uptempo tracks but mid song drifts into a dreamy landscape with distant horns reminding us of the journey through "How Big" while Florence's angelic voice reminds us "it's such a wonderful thing to love." "Grace" starts out with a gorgeous lounge feel with Florence reflectively singing "I'm sorry I ruined your birthday" and soars with a beautiful gospel-like chorus. "The End Of Love" is the best track from the album. It is absolutely stunning. This is the song that Florence just lets go and uses her voice as the key instrument the most and it is another one that gives the gospel feels.
Florence + The Machine achieve an incredible feat with "High As Hope" as each song ends - almost in abrupt way - leaving the listener wanting more. It is also refreshing that with each album, Florence seems to go down the road less traveled and is not afraid to explore new soundscapes. While there is a quaint familiarity to "High As Hope," there is also a newness to it. Perhaps on this record, it is Florence Welch opening herself world up to us which may be most present on the album closer "No Choir" as she sings "it's hard to write about being happy 'cause the older I get, I find that happiness is an extremely uneventful subject..." And thankfully, "High As Hope" is anything but uneventful.