Florence + The Machine’s High As Hope - What You Need To Know
Florence Welch and her Machine make it four albums and counting with the release of new LP High As Hope today.
You can purchase the album here in hmv’s online store and here is everything you need to know about this epic new collection...
A little background…
The touring cycle for Welch’s last full-length effort, 2015’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful took her to all new heights. She’d talked openly in interviews about giving up booze in the months before the album’s release and focusing on taking her band to the next level.
They certainly delivered. Over the course of the two years that followed, the album would go onto sell over a million copies, Welch wrote and helped to create her first short film, the wonderfully weird The Odyssey, the band would headline arenas across the world and headline both Glastonbury and Hyde Park. That all set things up nicely for new effort High As Hope.
The writing process for this album has been a little different for Welch. She demoed largely on her own before bringing in producer Emile Haynie to help her. Her previous regular collaborators Kid Harpoon, Paul Epworth and fellow band member Isabella Summers have no credits on this album, with Welch deciding to look to new voices as she recorded in both London and Los Angeles.
For this album, the Machine itself is slightly different. Drummer Christopher Hayden, who has been with the band since 2007, departed earlier this year, as did bassist Mark Saunders, a member since 2009. Pianist Rusty Bradshaw, who joined in 2011, has also left the fold.
The Machine has expanded in the wake of all these departures, Guards drummer Loren Humphrey, who was part of The Last Shadow Puppets line-up on their last tour, is in on drums. Former Goldfrapp member Hazel Mills is in on keyboards and Cyrus Bayandor takes the bass player’s spot. The band has also added violinist Dionne Douglas and percussionist Aku Orraca-Tetteh.
Who’s producing it?
Welch has assembled a crack team for High As Hope with hitmakers galore on board.
Emile Haynie, whose credits include Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die and Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox as well as tracks with Eminem, Emeli Sande, Kanye West and Dua Lipa, has executive produced the record.
Brett Shaw, who helped produce a lot of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, is also a big part of the record and has credits on six tracks. Thomas Bartlett and frequent Mark Ronson collaborator Andrew Wyatt also feature on one track each of the album’s 10.
Any special guests?
Indeed there are. Saxophone king Kamasi Washington, dance titan Jamie xx, soul man Sampha and country troubadour Tobias Jesso Jr all assisted in the making of High As Hope.
Jesso Jr has three credits, including a key role on new single ‘Hunger’, while Sampha appears alongside him on a track named ‘Grace’. Both Jamie xx and Washington assist on ‘Big God’.
What does it sound like?
Things are pared back a little from the grandeur and scale of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, making for a more intimate record. ‘Hunger’ has a stomp and a groove, while the epic scale that Welch has revelled in so much in the past is still there on tracks like ‘Sky Full Of Song’ and ‘Big God’.
It’s a more subtle record, less driven by powerful percussion and more by groove and arrangement.
Does it deliver?
There are more styles and more textures on show on this album than anything in Welch’s back catalogue. It might take a little more time to fall in love with, but it’s worth the effort.
Welch continues to be one of Britain’s brightest musical lights, always interesting, always inspiring and always delivering.