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Album Review: Florence + the Machine – High As Hope

 
By on Monday, 23rd July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Florence and the Machine High as Hope album coverOur favourite Earth mother Florence Welch is back, this time leading her band on a 10-track journey of organic creativity. Florence + The Machine have stripped it way back in their new album ‘High As Hope’, leaving much of their pop preferences behind and instead colouring their LP with folk influences. It’s easy to see why many are mistaken in thinking ‘Florence + The Machine’ is simply Welch’s pseudonym when their newest release feels like Welch’s singular creation, the role of the band feeling a little unclear. The background accompaniment takes a backseat to Welch’s theatrics: compared to her previous albums, this one is simple and acoustically driven, giving full attention to the vocals. All ten tracks put a spotlight on Welch’s vocal abilities, expressed in earthy, raw and rich tones that only Welch can do.

One of the most successful aspects of the album is that each song is like a different page of a diary, particularly tracks ‘Grace’ and ‘Patricia’, which feel more like letters than songs. ‘Grace’ starts as a beautiful piano ballad, with Welch sounding timid and sincere until the song blooms into a powerful chorus bringing with it heaps of emotion. The direct address to ‘Grace’ really creates a sense that the listener has intruded on a personal moment as Welch divulges her deepest thoughts and fears in lyrics such as “I guess I could go back to university / try and make my mother proud”. Although ‘Patricia’ is more upbeat, there is still a heartfelt address to a character that seems to have had a significant impact on Welch. There is a pure honesty and sincerity that bursts out of ‘Grace’ and ‘Patricia’, offering an authenticity that stands out against the rest of the album.

There is an undeniable intimacy to ‘High As Hope’, not just through the ‘diary’ narratives but also through the use of a capella sections in ‘No Choir’ and ‘Sky Full of Song’. Few artists are brave enough to showcase their vocals abilities through a capella, but it works brilliantly for Florence and the Machine. The unaccompanied vocals open these songs, instantly setting an intimate tone as no accompaniment can distract from Welch’s lyrics. This is most effective in portraying a melancholic emotion in The start of ‘No Choir’ is effective at conveying melancholy as Welch sings, “And it’s hard to write about being happy, ’cause all that I get / I find that happiness is an extremely uneventful subject”. Listeners cannot escape from the sadness Welch is expressing; instead, we are forced to deal with these emotions and engage with the song. It is a powerful tactic and one that is heightened by the subtle accompaniment rising and falling in perfect tandem with Welch, never once overpowering the vocals, yet still supporting the emotion.

Heavenly connotations across several tracks keeps ‘High As Hope’ unique, which are again supported beautifully by the instrumentation. Fourth track ‘Big God’ addresses this theme in its title, while opening track ‘June’ connotes heaven through references to angels: “you’re so high, you had to be an angel”. The instrumentation and production shadow the theme by creating huge, angelic sounds through layered strings and gorgeously dramatic, reverberating vocals. Despite such powerful sounds, the production isn’t overdone and hasn’t distorted the natural sounds of the instruments.

One of the first singles released from the LP ‘Hunger’, has been accompanied by an artistically abstract video. The single is catchy and radio friendly, yet it still carries the profound message of human nature’s hunger for love, perfectly captured by the visual accompaniment. The video portrays this through the use of statues as symbolism for human isolation. Symbolism continues in abundance, with images of forests evoking the organic nature of song and the rest of the album. The music video is atypical, more like a piece of art than it is a music video.

Florence + The Machine have taken a turn down a different road for ‘High As Hope’, showcasing another side to Welch’s songwriting. The album feels like a slice of Welch’s soul, giving us a much more honest and genuine perspective of Welch than in any previous albums. Authentic and personal elements make the LP so alluring, each song having a purpose, an emotion and a message. Radio stations may fool you into thinking that ‘Hunger’ is the only power track here, but that couldn’t be more wrong. The entire album is a masterpiece.

9/10

‘High As Hope’, the fourth studio album from Florence + the Machine, is out now on Virgin EMI and Republic Records. Catch Welch and her band on their world tour starting in the UK from the 15th of November. For more information on live dates visit Florence + The Machine’s official Web site. Read through all of our past coverage on the artist through this link.

 

Video of the Moment #2858: Florence and the Machine

 
By on Tuesday, 26th June 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Florence Welch has released the newest video from Florence and the Machine‘s album out on Friday. Self-described by Welch as a song about the recent negative dating trend of ghosting and very physical at that, the visuals for ‘Big God’ turns out to be a big, colorful dance number starring herself and other female dancers. Welch and her band are headed out on an arena tour this autumn for the latest album’s campaign, passing through North America in September and October before returning to the UK in November. ‘High as Hope’ will be out this Friday, the 29th of June, on Virgin EMI. For all of TGTF’s past coverage on Florence and the Machine, go here.

 

Florence and the Machine / May 2018 English Tour

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2018 at 9:00 am
 

Florence Welch, more famous under her stage name Florence and the Machine, has announced a short series of shows in the UK and America for next month. Of them, there are only three shows in England, in Halifax, Scunthorpe and London as listed below. The shows go on sale today at 10 AM. Earlier this month, she revealed new tune ‘Sky Full of Song’, which was released for Record Store Day last Saturday. Presumably, a new album is on the horizon…sometime in the future. The only other peep we’ve heard is that Welch will be releasing a book, Useless Magic, featuring her lyrics, artwork and poetry – how indulgent! – that is sure to be lapped up by her fans in quick order. The book will be available from Fig Tree / Penguin on the 5th of July.

Saturday 5th May 2018 – Halifax Victoria Theatre
Sunday 6th May 2018 – Scunthorpe Baths Hall
Tuesday 8th May 2018 – London Royal Festival Hall

 

Video of the Moment #2823: Florence and the Machine

 
By on Monday, 16th April 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Has your life been missing a flame-haired, shrieking singer/songwriter? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Florence Welch – you know, Florence and the Machine – has returned after a long absence. Just in time for Record Store Day next Saturday, the singer has unveiled ‘Sky Full of Song’ and its accompanying promo. Unlike her previous colourful, flowery incarnation, this promo video in monochrome suggests that the new Florence will be more understated and even minimalist. Watch the video for ‘Sky Full of Song’ below. For our past coverage on Welch’s music here on TGTF, use this link.

 

Video of the Moment #1875: Florence and the Machine

 
By on Sunday, 2nd August 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Friday night in the queue to get into the Laura Marling show at the 9:30 Club here in DC (live review posting tomorrow), two ladies behind me were talking about how the new Florence and the Machine album ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’ is. I’ve never rated Florence Welch and her shouty, theatrical voice, but it made me wonder what she’s been up to these days.

Well, Flo fans, you’re in luck: at the end of last week, she released a new mini-film called ‘The Odyssey Chapters 4 & 5’ that features her new single ‘Queen of Peace’ and other album track ‘Long & Lost’. Filmed on Easdale island, a small Scottish island in the Inner Hebrides, it’s part 4 and 5 of a series Welch has done with director Vincent Haycock chronicling her new LP. Haycock says of this epic mini-film:

We filmed ‘Queen of Peace’ and ‘Long & Lost’ in Scotland, one of my favorite places I’ve ever been to or filmed. The coast of Scotland is breathtaking, beautiful and harsh, an aesthetic mix that both Florence and I have been very interested in during the making of these videos. The Scottish people are amazing and especially the town of Easdale, the small island that we lived on and filmed. We shot in the winter and it was cold, brutal and endlessly inspiring, which I think really helped the story of Florence’s struggle with her family, the younger innocence vs. the feuding violence of the men around her, etc. The end of the video was done in a single take, at the very last seconds of light during a stormy barge ride on a freezing sea. The effort and focus on both the actors and crew was so amazing, Florence delivers one of my favorite moments to date and it’s one of my proudest technical and narrative accomplishments.

Watch the mini-film below. ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’ is out now on Island Records. All of TGTF’s coverage of Florence and the Machine is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSM0lLbVYOo[/youtube]

 

Preview: Flow Festival 2015

 
By on Thursday, 18th December 2014 at 9:30 am
 

Florence and Machine, Major Lazer and alt-J are among the first acts confirmed for Flow Festival 2015.

Held in Finland’s capital Helsinki, the 12th Flow Festival will take place between 14-16 August 2015 and is set to showcase a range of local and international talent. Other artists confirmed for the 3-day festival include Flying Lotus, Todd Terje, Run the Jewels, Future Islands and Foxygen.

Headliner Florence and the Machine are currently in the studio recording the follow-up to the critically acclaimed album ‘Ceremonials’. In addition to Flow Festival, the indie rock band are also set to headline Oya Festival in Norway, as well as making appearances at Hurricane (Germany) and Rock Werchter (Belgium). Florence and the Machine has yet to announce any UK dates for 2015 (at the time of writing, at least).

Major Lazer is the dancehall electro project from American producer Diplo. Their hits include ‘Get Free’ (ft. Amber Coffman), ‘All My Love’ (ft. Ariana Grande) and ‘Pon De Floor’ (which was famously sampled by Beyonce in ‘Run The World (Girls)’).

Meanwhile, alt-J, who received the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2012 with their album ‘An Awesome Wave’, are set to perform in Finland for the first time. The indie rockers recently announced that they would be performing at New York’s 18,200 capacity Madison Square Garden in March 2015.

Flow Festival takes place at the disused Suvilahti power station, which is just a short walk from the centre of Helsinki. Last year, the festival attracted over 60,000 people, with over 150 artists performing. Such acts included the likes of Of Monsters and Men, Kendrick Lamar and Disclosure.

Tickets for Flow Festival 2015 are on sale now, and cost €159 (approximately £130) for the three days. Further artists are expected to be added to the line-up in early 2015. You can find out more about Flow Festival on the official Web site.

 
 
 

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