In the video for "Hunger", the first single by Florence + The Machine from the new High As Hope on the stony surface of an ancient statue, glowing flower buds and moss bloom: what was once cold and cold was worshiped Admired only from afar, it becomes a lavish promise of renewal. This gradual flowering captures Florence Welch's intentions with her latest album: to blossom, to get involved, to open up.
Welch's Last Record, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful explored the aftermath of a breakup, and especially the aching emptiness and longing that accompanied him. Throughout her career, she has developed a reputation for capturing cavernous, self-destructive emotions that are barely contained in her Baroque sound. Who can forget the fragile, sparkling harps of "cosmic love," with the insistent claim amidst their booming echoes, "You left me in the dark"? Or the galloping chorus of "Dog Days Are Over," a seemingly happy song whose morbid description of happiness is met by an oncoming move? With her ascending song and dark, angry energy, Welch seemed to worship a religion before God failed her ̵
High As Hope preserves Florence's large, torrential stream Melodrama, but it feels less like a storm than the soft light that later breaks in the sober reverence of a new day. Many songs start unadorned, supported by Welch's great, resonant voice and minimal instrumental support. "No Choir," the final track, begins with a strong a cappella section: her loneliness provides a source of strength, a confidence in her ability to express herself. Her predecessor albums dipped into figurative language, elaborate creations guarding her from reality, but in High As Hope she clearly says what she means. "I'm sorry I ruined your birthday," she apologizes in "Grace," a loving tribute to her sister. The album celebrates the intimate and the everyday: their carefree upbringing in South London, their wistful adoration of Patti Smith, the unspectacular romance of two people who do nothing. Her songs are infused with a tender optimism: "My heart bends and breaks so many, many times", she sings in "100 days". "And is born again with every sunrise."
High As Hope also expresses the desire to capture feelings that are greater than herself, inspired by the collective moments she experienced in New York in the summer of 2016. "June" recalls "the hardest Days "" when love became an act of defiance "before leaping into the call for togetherness. "Hold on tight," she says almost wistfully. "Hold on to each other." It is a new twist for an artist whose persona has often focused on ideas of brokenness and irreconcilable isolation.
But for those who appreciate yesterday's Florence with all its grandeur and clairvoyance, there is still a glimmer of their old self. The video for "Big God," a song waiting for someone to write back, is a synchronized group of women writhing on a sodden floor performing sinister dance moves that are twice as uncomfortable as the words "reading." at 20:42 clock "text sent. Veiled dancers float in a Renaissance painting like disembodied cherub heads. "You will always be my favorite ghost," groans Florence and sticks to the last word.
But for the most part, she seems to be finished with ominous theatricality and heartbroken moods. In "Patricia" the singer strikes an unprecedented feeling on her previous albums: "It's such a wonderful thing to love."