Perhaps surprisingly to some, I’ve always had a thing for female fronted pop-rock bands. I used to like Lily Allen’s music until the last couple of albums turned into dirges interspersed with rubbish rapping and other urban crap. Florence and the Machine though have always stuck to their roots and their new album High as Hope is thankfully no different.
Following on from How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – surely a timeless classic if ever I heard one – is no easy matter and frankly I don’t think the band are particularly trying to compete. High as Hope features generally slower songs (with a few notable exceptions) but they are as rich, intelligent, well played and as beautifully sung as ever.
Lyrically speaking the whole album sounds like a forty-odd minute therapy session with Florence Welch baring (and perhaps bearing) her soul. An intensely personal record it covers her past, her relationships, her frailties, her neurosis and many other personal details of her life and her responses to them. It’s very honest and I’m sure we can all empathise with some aspects of her life and problems.
A prime example is Hunger which deals with her emptiness and loneliness and her past attempts to deal with them with anorexia, drugs and fame. Surprisingly this is one of the musically up-tempo numbers on the album. It’s extremely effective and very good – a definite highlight. Some other favourites are South London Forever, Big God, Sky Full of Song and Patricia.
Let me be honest here. High as Hope is not as great an album as How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. It needed a couple of the slower numbers cutting out and a couple of more up-tempo songs added to attempt to reach the height of its illustrious predecessor. But that’s not the point. Houses of the Holy could never have reached the pinnacle of Led Zeppelin IV but is none-the-less an extremely listenable record and so is High as Hope.