The following is an artistic interpretation of my lowered inhibitions.
However, time passed and I moved on to other artists. Florence + The Machine began to move steadily down my “Recently Added” purchases until finally they were relegated to make their final home in the artist library, where purchased music goes to be sometimes forgotten.
Not one to sit out on the sidelines, Florence + The Machine returned with High As Hope.
Unlike their previous work, High As Hope marks a departure from the larger than life orchestral arrangements or bombastic anthems (think “Shake It Out,” “Breath of Life,” or even “Ship to Wreck”). The new album strips away all those arrangements, leaving a vulnerable and raw Florence Welch singing about faith, disappointment, sobriety and love. Make no mistake, what High As Hope lacks in over-the-top productions it makes up for in lyrical poetry and brilliance.
In “Hunger,” the singer opens up about former demons, including eating disorders (“At seventeen I started to starve myself”) and addiction (“I thought that love was in the drugs/But the more I took/The more it took away”). Welch reminisces about her life, both good and bad, in “South London Forever,” lamenting over debauched nights and reckless love. “Grace” is a public apology to her sister for past indiscretions:
Grace, I know you carry us
Grace, and it was such a mess
Grace, I don’t say it enough
Grace, you are so loved
However, it is the simplistic and haunting “Sky Full of Song” that showcases the true musical prowess of Florence + The Machine.
The song opens with just Welch, singing a cappella with a warning that at first feels like for someone else but you quickly realize it was most likely said to her:
How deeply are you sleeping?
Oh, are you still awake?
A good friend told me
You’ve been staying out so late
Be careful, oh my darling
Oh, be careful what it takes
From what I’ve seen so far
The good ones always seem to break
“Sky Full of Song” details the singer’s need for stability and a connection that goes beyond a stage and an arena with tens of thousands of screaming fans. Although many of us may never understand that specific context, we’ve all experienced a lack of control and the desire to be steady and grounded.
High As Hope does give listeners hope for more brilliance from Florence + The Machine in the future. I can even wait another three years for it. Just not four years; that’s crazy.