Ellie Goulding
Halcyon


4.0
excellent

Review

by David Driver USER (79 Reviews)
October 10th, 2012 | 148 replies | 15,248 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ellie Goulding departs from her previous bright pop sound, and spreads her wings into darker, soulful, more artistic territory.

9 of 9 thought this review was well written

For me, there isn’t a lot to sink your teeth into when it comes to pop music, and not surprisingly so: usually pop music lends itself to simplistic and superficial creations, leaving most pop acts with lots to be desired. It’s hard to create something worthwhile, but still be marketable to the masses, and that’s where I feel Ellie Goulding was a breath of fresh air back in 2010 with her debut, Lights. Featuring a unique voice along with creative and catchy songs, Ellie Goulding is back once again, but this time, she seems to be taking herself a little bit more seriously. With a new album and a new change of tone, how does Halcyon stack up with her debut?

With her sophomore album, Halcyon, Ellie seems to be turning a corner, stepping further away from the sugary-sweet pop music mentality and more into an R&B/Soul-type territory. The biggest difference between Lights and Halcyon, by far, has to be the song structures: where-as Lights featured songs with more traditional tight-knit pop structures complete with bona fide, fleshed-out chorus hooks, Halcyon aims to be a little looser, a little bit more artistic, and even a little bit more darker in tone. It seems like Ellie wanted to be more like Adele and less like Britney this time around, and the whole tone of the album certainly comes off more slick and mournful in contrast to the bright, poppy songs found on Lights.

But it’s not to say that big hooks are completely gone on Halcyon: “My Blood” builds sweetly before soaring into a thumping, melodic chorus, “Figure 8” has effortless vocals over a more sinister electronic beat, and lead single “Anything Could Happen” features thick synths accompanying Ellie’s raspy wails. Even Ellie’s bright, striking cover of “Hanging On” is on here, and thankfully it is a version that cuts out Tinie Tempah’s god-awful rap. Certainly, Ellie Goulding hasn’t completely ignored the need for a catchy hook, and there are certainly a great handful of traditionally-minded tracks to go back to.

But the real meat and potatoes of Halcyon is not in the hooks, but in the overall tone and mood; The album comes off more like a break-up record, something you would listen to while pounding a tub of ice cream while bawling your eyes out. “I Know You Care” succeeds as a gut-wrenching, stripped-down ballad, complete with an off-the-cuff, free-wheeling lyrical structure, as if she’s just trying to recite a story rather than sing us a tune. “Halcyon” bares some heavy, grim tones and lyrics, and the ironically titled “Joy” tries to pull your heartstrings rather than trying to make your toe tap. But the most sinister, morose number is awarded to the album’s closer, which seems to float without any gravitational pull at all, and features Ellie’s terrific voice over some forlorn strings. These types of numbers were completely absent from her debut, but are a welcome addition to her catalogue, as she pulls it off expertly. While the change in tone may be drastic, she still pulls it off, and it is enjoyable all-around.

For Ellie Goulding, Halcyon is a bold, but confident, and ultimately successful, tweak to her pervious sound. Deeper, thicker and darker, Halcyon departs from her previous brighter pop sound, and in turn, spreads it’s wings into a different, soulful, more artistic territory. While I don’t think the album quite matches the heights of Lights, I do believe that the album is easily one of the best pop efforts we’ve seen this year, and certainly one of the the most profound, stylized efforts in the genre as a whole. Rarely can an artist (let alone a pop artist) change their tone to darker fare and still be successful, but it’s great to see that, with Halcyon, Ellie has done just that.



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user ratings (183)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
brandontaylor (3.5)
Halcyon's beautiful aesthetic carries it a long way, but the polish eventually wears off....

related reviews

Lights

Comments:Add a Comment 
Beauville88
October 9th 2012



217 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'll miss having 69 reviews (teeheeteehee).

Tyrael
October 9th 2012



20740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuck I forgot this was out already

NEED IT NAO

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
October 9th 2012



49802 Comments


I suppose I'll add the tracklisting


Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

Kris.
October 9th 2012



12152 Comments


ive had this downloaded for days but coheed

InFiction
October 9th 2012



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Her first album was better.

Digging: Braid - No Coast

Douglas
October 10th 2012



9061 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Still hot though so that's good

LE0Night
October 10th 2012



36 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Don't Say A Word sure was unexpected and My Blood blew my socks off, the rest of the album comes off as a bit average in comparison, though.

Digging: FKA twigs - LP1

Waior
October 10th 2012



11425 Comments


I'm really excited to hear this obvs

blastOFFitsPARTYtime
October 10th 2012



1477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sweet. Onit ASAP.

Fugue
October 10th 2012



7352 Comments


Good. Not as good as Lights though. Lights grew on me a lot though so who knows?

ABjordanMM
October 10th 2012



1361 Comments


Dang she's good looking. Listening now.

Strider
October 10th 2012



4598 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Figure 8 is fucking tits

ABjordanMM
October 10th 2012



1361 Comments


Seriously am digging this.

TooLateToGoBack
October 11th 2012



1755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Seriously loving this album.

Figure 8 and Anything Can Happen are both superb.

Tyrael
October 13th 2012



20740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well yea this rips

indie pop fans represent

Cygnatti
October 13th 2012



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like this girl, Lights (the song) is awesome

her covers are really bad though

Digging: The Avalanches - Since I Left You

Cygnatti
October 13th 2012



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nope, I really dislike skrillex though

AlexTM510
October 13th 2012



1398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The album comes off more like a break-up record, something you would listen to while pounding a tub of ice cream while bawling your eyes out.


haha nice

good review. though I gotta say i like this more than lights. its nice to her this progression/maturity

henryChinaski
October 14th 2012



2687 Comments


Album starts really promising. Nice review.

henryChinaski
October 14th 2012



2687 Comments


Yeah well Active Child's version of Hanging On is still better, but that cover is decent imo



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