Florence and the Machine’s “High as Hope” is Brutally Honest and Real

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine performing at BBC's The Biggest Weekend Festival in 2018
Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine performing at BBC's The Biggest Weekend Festival in 2018. Photo by Richard Isaac/REX/Shutterstock (9694608lo)

High as Hope is a deeply personal album that is not just about battling with alcohol, drugs and being unlucky in love. It’s an album about the emptiness, about the emptiness and deep yearning that Florence claims we are all hungry to fill.

The album opens with the single “Hunger” and the first lines are: “At seventeen I started to starve myself” which sets the tone of the album. It’s brutally honest and real. The fleeting highs and lows of youth along with its insecurities hover around the rest of the album.

“South London Forever” is a beautiful, poetic track which feels like going home for the summer. Florence recalls being “young and drunk and stumbling in the street,” climbing onto roofs and holding hands with boys in bands.

She sings: “The world is at your fingertips / It doesn’t get better than this / What else could be better than this”. In this track, Florence flirts with nostalgia and manages to capture something that feels collectively reminiscent. “South London Forever” is both a deeply personal song that also perfectly captures the universal hopefulness of youth.

“Big God” is a stunning soul ballad which opens with Florence’s voice alone with a minimalist, dark and edgy piano backing. The track crescendos into a deeply enjoyable demonstration of exactly how powerful Florence’s vocals can be. The song is a further example of Welch’s talent as not just a singer, but as a composer.

“Patricia” is a little more similar to what we’ve heard from early Florence. It’s colorful, indie and full of musical quirks. It’s definitely a song for a sunny day at a festival as opposed to a song to help a broken heart. “100 years” is also gorgeous and “No Choir” feels like it comes to terms with the pain and loneliness of all her music.

All in all, Florence and the Machine’s new album is superb. It captures the fear of being venerable and the wonderfulness of love whilst also admitting to hiding from the thunder and being exhausted from the party. Florence captures the fleeting hope of youth and raises it beyond nostalgia and into the present. High as Hope is an album which is deeply comfortable in its own skin and is subtle, modest and genuinely beautiful.