High As Hope by Florence and the Machine, a trip inside

I do not know if the fans of Florence + the Machine have received this record as they did with all the previous ones - I understand that the places of popularity are very good, but sometimes this is a matter of inertia due to the success of the previous works, or because you have a good marketing strategy. Speaking of the effect of this album only, it seems that, with the possibilities that now have to buy only the songs you like and discard the others that you are not passionate, put together track lists for different occasions and moods, the album could well be separated by the users so as not to have to listen to it completely. And not because it's bad, but because it's hard to listen to it completely, that's all. In fact, if you are not a fan of the band, I recommend that you approach this way, part by part and not try to digest everything at the same time. Because on this occasion, Florence Welch, singer, and composer of the band, makes an inward journey. It seems to me that past successes have hit her hard and left a mark on her that can not necessarily be translated as positive, although yes as a teaching of life. That said, the songs on almost the entire album could not have been written with sticky, festive or explosive rhythms to listen to anywhere. This is rather something to share between the composer and you, but nobody else, although in some cases even that does not happen. Something that exemplifies very well the latter is the song, "South London Forever", only who has been there, lives there and perhaps found Florence in those times and lived with her in those bars, can understand and assimilate all that melancholy. It is not an issue for everyone, however much we want to give it a universal interpretation, it is something very personal. I think I've found the point I want to convey, the reason for being of this album is a very personal situation of the artist that has been presented to her audience. It's like when a painter exhibits his last painting, we are not inside the painting, we only contemplate it. Like it or not, it's a very personal decision and the painter decided to take that risk. That said, personally "High As Hope" does not raise my hope, it takes it away from me. I remember some time ago I asked a Scottish friend what he thought about the fact that Coldplay had taken almost 10 years to get a number one in the UK; where the band is from, and their response was a real lesson for me: if the countries of the United Kingdom are among the first places in the world to have a depressive population (Scotland in the first place), why should we want a band that depresses us more? In fact, the first number one of the band in their own land was "Viva la Vida" a song that cheers and makes the listener happy, it does not make them sad. And he was right, that's why I increasingly appreciate light music, because of her ability to give us a bit of happiness. We have enough problems to buy the problems of others. And that is the risk Florence and the Machine took when deciding to put all these issues together. Probably the only song that gives meaning to the whole album is "Hunger"; the rest of the topics, being very good, should be treated with care or it is possible that they drag you.


The images and some passages of music and lyrics go back to 1969. It is obvious since this Indie band has well-seated its influences in all that hippie culture, and I am sure that it will be faithful until the end. The entire album has the correct instruments and the performances of the musicians are impeccable - the rhythms are appropriate for the lyrics and the interpretation of Florence is unique. Her voice and singing style are always giving us the feeling that she will not reach the grade; however, she always arrives correctly to all of them. The vibrato characteristic of her voice gives a distinctive stamp to everything she does. The album does not lack quality, but it lacks something that moves us. I guess many of her fans will hate me for saying this, but my musical tastes demand more balance between theme and theme. I understand that sometimes you want to create a concept of your entire album; however, there are certain rules that must be met to hook the listener and not let it go. A good poem is not enough, it must be wrapped in a complete package of rhythm, instrumentation, arrangements and many wishes to involve the audience that is on the other side of the speakers. On this occasion, Florence and the Machine leave us out, to become exclusively listeners of their experiences, memories, sufferings, and hopes. And that is not something that fills me with hope. When you think the album will be raised with the song "Patricia" after two minutes of advanced the subject you realize that it will not be like that. It is repetitive and monotonous. Finish the song and you think you're ready for a happier song to save the album but at the start of "100 Years" the only thing you can do is move your head from one side to the other and think that it will not happen any way, and you will have to settle for slow rhythms and prayers rather than with songs from Florence.


If what the album intends is to raise your hope towards whatever you have lost, its ending is almost achieved with the song "No Choir". The song is very good, but the tour of all the previous songs gives you a feeling of fatigue and exhaustion. I think that's why it does not achieve the desired result. Perhaps if it had been preceded by happier songs the closing of the album would have been masterly. After this, I return to the initial reflection: either you take songs separately or you decide to listen to the album at different times and in different parts. Otherwise, it would be very heavy to manage to endure the slowness of the songs over and over and over again, which is not bad, but it is too much. I understand that, because they are British and attentive not to lose their base of local followers, but in the future, they would have to worry about bringing that depressive population by nature, something more joy. Hope is fine but accompanied by the joy it tastes better.

By: Jorge Diaz

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