Following their tour of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful in 2015, Florence Welch admits she was straight back in the studio working on her next album. High as Hope, which was released last June, does not disappoint, casting the typical distinctive ballad-style vocals and ceremonial sounds we can’t get enough of.
The album has a striking authenticity, featuring some of Florence’s most explicitly personal and stripped-down lyrics, with each song telling us a story. She explores themes of loneliness, family life and heartbreak, as well as revealing some of her own hardships faced during her youth.
The first track on the album, June, is pleasantly minimalistic as Florence’s usual full-bodied vocals are held back to create a softer and euphoric sound. She explores an array of emotion as the song builds in pace and vigour until the characteristic extravagant ending.
The End of Love is one of the most intense and sincere songs on the album, with a beautiful instrumental opening and intensely emotional lyrics. Florence describes the positive process letting go of the need to be loved, reaching her inner strength to ‘wash away’ her dependence of being in love. In the same way, Hunger presents a deeply personal tone to the album, revealing Florence’s struggle with an eating disorder during her teenage years. The song engages with the same notion of the need to fill a void in oneself, through love, drugs, or hunger.
Throughout the album, Florence moves on to write about life so beautifully, reviving the experiences of her twenties and exploring the search for balance through many of her songs, including Sky Full of Song, Patricia and No Choir. Through the harmonious hums and orchestral sounds, we are immersed in her emotional reality, giving the album an impressive authenticity.
Finally, my personal favourite song on the album, Grace, immerses us in its melancholic melody with soft piano and ambient vocals. The song is dedicated to Florence’s younger sister, Florence presents an apology to her younger sister for her chaotic behaviour in the past, reassuring her ‘you are so loved’ and that she is the ‘only thing I had any faith in’. The lyrics reveal a warming sense of genuine love and care for her sibling.
High as Hope is a truly a must-listen with its expressive lyrics and bittersweet take on love and heartache. Enhanced in feeling through its beautiful melodies and instrumentals, it should be a definite addition to everyone’s Spotify playlist.