Label: Virgin EMI Records/Universal Music

Review by Warren Mayocchi

In the list of bands with a distinctive sound, Florence + the Machine are sure to rank. Commanding and melancholic, with a twist of the popular melodic, it is never hard to recognize their material. “High as Hope” is quite plainly a recognizable Florence + the Machine album, which is possibly one of the bigger challenges the group face – they need powerful and distinctive songs to match such a dominant style. “High as Hope” is, therefore, a triumph of substance and style. The album does exude a thematic personality – a gospel touch is ever-present, the soulful hymn, regular hand claps, song titles mentioning god, a choir, and other majestic visions (my favorite title poetry is “Sky Full of Song”). Each song on this album is accompanied by orchestrations of simple piano or fuller accompaniments with strings and horns, and this is where the album shines. There are a couple of songs with more typical instrumentation like “Hunger”. It has a music video and though it is the song least like the rest of the album. “Big God” also has a video (watch here) and is more like what you will experience, though it is good to remember each song is quite different, “Big God” simply demonstrates the type of song better than the former music video. Continuing the demonstration of what you will find on “High as Hope” is “Sky Full of Song” – what I consider to the standout track in this collection. This song shows the magic which happens when the band fully embrace their music. Of course, I am being too critical, there are times where the music takes on a pedestrian feel, the hand claps, the last quarter of “No Choir” where the song devolves into demo-esque vocal expressions. Lovely and most listenable, though without the enduring quality of “Sky Full of Song”. Ultimately “High as Hope” is an entertaining listen, there is too much to love to say otherwise. It is another gem in the music catalog of a band who continue to distinguish themselves in a world of talent.

Rating – 85/100

 

Tracklist

  1. June
  2. Hunger
  3. South London Forever
  4. Big God
  5. Sky Full of Song
  6. Grace
  7. Patricia
  8. 100 Years
  9. The End of Love
  10. No Choir

 

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