Why Florence + the Machine’s ‘High as Hope’ is the best album of 2018

McClain Baxley

Image from telegraph.co.uk

On the band’s fourth studio album, Florence + the Machine left behind the more abrasive, electric sound of their previous anthology. Through the band’s change in sound, listeners were able to once again fall in love with Welch’s raw vocal talent as well as her commanding backup harmonies. Florence + the Machine perfectly compiled these ten works of art in an order and flow that satisfies ears in a melodic fusion of beauty.

The leading track, “June,” opens the album with 10 seconds of silence, a sigh, and then the strong chorus comes in almighty, with the haunting backup vocals keeping the beat and subtlety of the piece. In her interview with Radio X, Welch described the chorus as a “maternal cry,” a dual description of the heartbreak and chaos surrounding the Pulse nightclub shooting in June of 2016.

The song that went mainstream off the album is “Hunger,” with its upbeat message about reaching one’s goals. While it doesn’t fit with the tone of the rest of the album, the track does have the happiest sound. Its abrupt end flows seamlessly into the album’s third track, “South London Forever”, which is the album’s only throw-away song. It’s boring and doesn’t showcase Welch’s vocal range or any powerful instruments. The violin chorus is a pleasant redeemer, though.

Finally, we have “Big God,” with its symbolism, power and noteworthy structure. This is one of the deepest songs the band has written and the music video adds another level of depth to the song. It starts off slow but builds until it hits its peak and has to recover.

“Sky Full of Song” comes in like a Chili’s Molten Chocolate Cake after the crispy honey-chipotle chicken crispers – perfectly. This track is the best on the album, a majestic contrast to “Big God” and an incredible orchestra of sound. It begins with Florence belting her feelings, and then she softens up to allow the harmonies to seep in slowly but surely. The song continues with a resounding chorus and fights itself with beautiful contrasting pitches. A masterpiece.

And then “Grace” comes in and clears the palate with a slow but booming song. The chorus booms and the bridge resorts back to the calming melodies that the audience has grown accustomed to. It even drops an “f-bomb,” for a little Florence flare.

The rest of the album is just a classic b-side to a Florence album with the exception to the next-to-last track, “The End of Love.” The song begins with a minute-long symphony and then comes in with a tragic soundtrack that perfectly encompasses what Florence + the Machine accomplished with this album.

High as Hope is an album that you can drive to, cry to, party to and just enjoy at any time of the day or night.