Review: High As Hope by Florence + the Machine

High As Hope by Florence + the MachineIt takes some getting used to, Florence Welch not being… big. That’s been her thing, for better or worse, but with her last album, 2015’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, she attempts to provide some shade to her out-and-out light, and that worked for the most part. Thus, High As Hope, which continues the trend – a Florence + the Machine record that does not sound like a Florence + the Machine record, except for when it does, like with “Hunger”, with a heavy-handed metaphor that slides easily because Florence forces it with such charm and conviction – why wouldn’t you let her? This album goes further down the shade, the sequence of quiet tracks actually taking me back by surprise. Florence is a producer for the first time, which sees her experiment with her capabilities more (see “No Choir”, perhaps a sly nod to how she can essentially be – and, in this case, is – one?) and square in on the nuances she never got to show off before. But pairing up with Emile Haynie – who’s worked with Lana del Rey, among others – may have been a misfire, as the album, eventually, sounds so samey it loses any attempts at punch. Have they swung too far towards quiet? At least we can applaud how they recognize that too much of one thing isn’t always good – but they’ll have to hone that balance more. [NB]3/5

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