Florence + The Machine is recognizable for big, bombastic, soaring arrangements. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was supposed to be a bit stripped down. High as Hope actually succeeds in that.
That’s not to say that it’s sparse. Unless you are comparing it Ceremonials. But this is the most restrained album we’ve seen from Florence Welch. And that restraint lends a weight and emotional resonance to the work that was more easily overwhelmed by flourish and bombast on previous Florence + The Machine albums.
I think there are some missed opportunities. It would have been interesting to see if Welch had taken much more of a lead on production, instead of bringing in Emile Haynie, whose style, frankly, is at odds with the more stripped down work that Welch said she was aiming for.
Recommendation: Buy It
Songs that I have a playlist for: Hunger, South London Forever, Big God, Sky Full of Song, Grace, The End of Love, No Choir
Songs I will thumbs down: None