High As Hope

British indie rock band Florence + the Machine are set to release their fourth studio album on June 29, coming off the heels of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.

Florence + the Machine

The band’s front woman Florence Welch is never short of surprises when it comes to the awe-inspiring themes of her songs. Her writing style is nothing short of dramatic rhapsodies accompanied by beautifully arranged instrumentals. Florence + the Machine’s creative style is characterized in Lungs (2009) with songs like “Cosmic Love” and “Blinding.”

The band’s first album was stripped down to the bone and relied on only a handful of instruments composed mostly of percussion and whimsical strings, including their infamous harp. Ceremonials (2011) took a slight turn away from indie rock, bringing in a more soulful feel that can be heard in “What the Water Gave Me,” along with “Never Let Me Go” and the 2012 bonus track “Breath of Life.”

Yet, fans were surprised back in the summer of 2015 to hear the distinct shift in How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. This album was like nothing Florence had done before.“Which Witch” (arguably the best “pump up” song ever made in my opinion, sorry Survivor.) Both “Various Storms and Saints,” and “Delilah” were dominated by intense percussion and brass instruments.Notably, this was the first record without the harp.

This album was a shock to say the least, with themes of hopeless romance, emotional neglect and unrequited love. It was pretty clear that Florence was looking to take the third album in a different direction.Through expressing her feelings of despair, frustration and regeneration, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was a successful demonstration of Florence’s creative and vocal range, her versatility, and growth.

So what will this new album High As Hope sound like? Well, from the few early released singles including “Big God,” “Sky Full of Song,” and “Hunger,” it seems Florence may be going back to her roots.From what we have heard, this album is reminiscent of the early Lungs days, with its earthy folk melodies and romantic themes of which can be heard in “Hunger.”

In a recent BBC Radio One interview, the singer disclosed the process of creating the latest album citing that she began working on songs during her American tour for How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful back in 2015.When discussing Welch’s motivation for the album she stated, “I knew I was doing it just for me.”

The track “Hunger” she divulged, was the most personal track on the album which discussed the artist’s battle with alcoholism and her early years as a musician. For Welch, the crux of the song was to express her desire as a young woman for love and acceptance, looking for that attention in the wrong places, and eventually coming to terms with her inner demons.“Big God” on the other hand could be a sign of a new path for the band. The lyrics are boisterous and aggressive, describing a relationship of unreciprocated love and the emptiness that comes along with it, leaving behind a void in need of something so monumental to fill it.

The music video that accompanies this song has flashes of imagery similar to that of the oil painting “Witches Flight” by Spanish painter Francisco Goya. The symbolism of the witches in flight devouring their victim is portrayed by the hovering women in the video surrounding the singer. The donkey in the foreground of the painting was symbolically used as an indication of ignorance in early Western literature.

Perhaps Florence is drawing conclusions of her own ignorance towards the toxic relationship she is describing. Judging from this song alone, it is quite possible that the same creative processes that led to the third album have taken Florence down another new avenue of experimentation for High as Hope.

The album was done in collaboration with Brett Shaw, her engineer and the same producer of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. With this in mind, it is too early to say what the rest of the album will sound like, but be assured that the ten tracks will reinvigorate the love of long standing fans, and surely entice new ones.

Florence + the Machine are about to kick off their world tour starting this summer in Spain on July 12th. High as Hope will be officially released this Friday and is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.