Florence Welch is the queen of grand symphonies, with High As Hope being further evidence of her reign. Dramatic with building climaxes, Welch’s signature vocals light up her production credits in the album, illustrating a personal power behind her belting. Throughout this album, Welch reconstructs her memories with longing, wistful ballads. Coming of age in between London, NYC, and LA, nostalgia colors the disillusionment of her present success, portraying it as a false peace. Anorexia, family feuds, religious epiphanies, and Patti Smith light the path, making this the most emotionally vulnerable album Welch has written so far.
Although strong in its lyrical journey, the album is not musically innovative, acting as a satisfying echo of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The choirs, piano, trumpets, and violins follow predictable trajectories, creating highs Welch is known for; however, these sometimes end up feeling forced. Most of the songs strain for lighter kinship to “Delilah” or “What Kind of Man,” but the biographical and almost conversational themes are too delicate for organic anthems. Whereas Welch’s last album stemmed from mythical icons and oceanic imagery, this new venture is too real and honest for an orchestra. Although lacking a tonal balance between lyrics and musical construction, High As Hope is still a solid album, sure to make any bemused poets halt for this epic odyssey.
by Stephanie Elmir