Florence + the Machine: High as Hope review – in a contemplative mood

High as Hope
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Artist: Florence + the Machine
Genre: Pop
Label: Virgin EMI

She is known for her big, blustering operatic pop songs, but Florence Welch’s fourth album finds her in comparatively contemplative mode. Perhaps it’s the Londoner’s experience that has led her to more low-key fare this time.

However, there are still plenty of big moments on High as Hope, not least the majestic orchestral sweep of 100 Years, the dramatic vibrancy of Patricia and the poppy bounce of Hunger.

In-between are moments of slow rumbling drums and mellow moments as she reminisces about her younger days in Camberwell (South London Forever), while the soft, sombre sweep of The End of Love is one of several songs tinged with an oblique bittersweetness. Big God sounds like Lorde and Kate Bush covering a Bond theme, while Welch's voice is as powerful and reedy as ever as it contorts itself to fit both the booming ballads and the softer moments, best heard on closer No Choir.

The up-and-down dynamic makes for a mixed affair, both stylistically and lyrically, and while there are indubitably one or two “wow” moments, they don’t quite span the whole album.

A solid collection, then, rather than a gripping or inspirational one.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times