It is true that with most artists you could say each album they give us is a new chapter in their story.
With this in mind, High as Hope could represent a whole new book for Florence, one strikingly unlike the others we have heard from her.
Muted are the harps and, for the most part, gone is the choir (as pointed out in No Choir.) What remains is talent, emotion and most importantly, a story.
While previous work from Florence has not at all lacked honesty, with tracks like Only if For A Night describing in detail one of Welch’s dreams, this album’s story seems much more personal.
It isn’t hard to decipher why the album feels this way either, a collaborative effort between confession and coolness.
The confessions begin immediately in the album’s opener, June, in which Welch sings about waking in Chicago after a show, repeatedly telling the listener “I’m so high.”
Aspects of the band’s old sound are still there, the occasional heavy pounding of a drum sneaking in during the track, an emotional wail making an appearance here and there .
However, it is noticeably stripped back, calmer and cooler, which in turn truly forces you to focus on the strength of Florence’s voice, and the strength of what she is saying with it.
Focusing on these words in track two, Hunger, truly highlights how personal this album gets. The first lines “At seventeen, I started to starve myself, I thought that love was a kind of emptiness” give us a clear reference to the struggles and hardships the singer has overcome.
A standout song from the album is Grace. The track, which is a musical apology to Welch’s sister, details an 18th birthday party during which the singer was tripping and seeing people’s feelings.
And while we can’t exactly feel Florence’s feelings, it is not at all hard to hear them in this song. From the near-whispered bridge of “And you, you were the one I treated the worst” to the screams of “and it was such a fucking mess” as the song builds to its dramatic climax, emotion pours through the track.
If the change in pace that this album boasts leaves you thirsty for the classic sound though, you’re in luck, as towards the albums end 100 Years gives you a taste of what Florence was once known for.
The sound of the harp is prominent for the first time in a while, while other strings and pounding drums work together to make a track which is unapologetic in sound and meaning.
Lyrics such as “And I believe in love and the darker it gets, the more I do, try and fill us with your hate and we will shine a light” as with all good songs can be interpreted in many ways, but the meaning stands strong. Embrace who you are.
And with this new album, it seems that is what Florence is doing.
Listen to the album here:
Featured Image: Florence and The Machine Sky Full of Song Video