Halsey
hopeless fountain kingdom


2.0
poor

Review

by house cat STAFF
June 3rd, 2017 | 126 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: shakespeare floats down from the heavens for a pumpkin spice latte

I have a sour taste in my mouth after travelling to the hopeless fountain kingdom. I shall concede, firstly, that I have long since passed my elitist ‘I hate pop’ phase. I didn’t hate Halsey’s first album – Gasoline was a banger, and its pinballing sitar lead made for a veritable acid-trip of a song, so I forgave the contrived edginess that cloaked the track like a moth-bitten quilt.

Speaking of contrived edginess, this record begins with a melodramatic reading of Romeo and Juliet’s opening lines. I don’t think I can be as forgiving this time around.

Not that Halsey cares. She’s obviously not afraid of confrontation, she’s headstrong and her snarky attitude is a necessary facet of both her image and her music. Both of these things, though, need to be counterbalanced by an actual, observable sense of self-awareness. Of which – I’ve spent a couple of hours with this record, and the hope that writing a piece on this album will help me find some is slowly dwindling.

I want to like this, honest; it’s just that it feels like a checklist for contemporary pop. It’s Halsey leering over a group of workers at an assembly line and ticking boxes as she moves down the order. There’s the lamenting piano ballad (Sorry), the cavorting anthem of self-pity and destruction (Alone) and the utterly inexplicable Migos feature (Lie). The record tries so hard to paint a picture both genuine and empathetic to the struggle of your average Tumblr-poetry devotee that it becomes this insincere clusterfuck of an album.

To parse the album title: ‘hopeless’ – as it stands in the context of the record – is melodrama as mirrored by conceit, the kind of hopelessness easy to overcome but even easier to complain about. Halsey’s grievances about her ennui are neither substantial enough to wring out an emotional response or congruent with anthemic choruses to warrant a singalong, so when the record turns away from this manufactured nadir, Halsey’s vocals are surprisingly impassioned (Heaven in Hiding). Her voice shows a noticeable improvement in these moments, standing out when everything else refuses to.

And it’s so frustrating when, in Bad at Love, she (almost in the same breath, mind you) proclaims two things: that she is “trying” to feel and reciprocate something genuine, only to come back around again, exhorting the notion that another person must be the one to “fix” her. Then, I suppose ‘fountain kingdom’ is a metaphor, evincing the act of throwing an empire’s worth of pennies into fountains, wishing for things to look up instead of actually being proactive.

Or, alternatively, this could be a remarkably heartfelt and cathartic piece of work. This is a post-breakup record, and so I’ve no doubt that the emotions that inform these lyrics are from the heart, and I applaud that. The lyrics don’t even reach the heart, though, they barely even break the skin (“I know that it’s fire flame / your mouth make a hurricane”. Nice, Quavo). In a way, I also applaud the ambition – the record seems mapped along a series of story beats, and as cliché and callow as they may be, they are emblematic of some vague attempt to be creative. Still, it’s packaged as a jigsaw with all but a few pieces missing, long-winded because it’s all wind; an odyssey with two D’s.

Good on Halsey. Good on her for deconstructing her assuredly shattered heart for an impressionable target audience, and good on her for scrubbing her palms of the underground blogosphere completely. Personally, I wish she'd kept her left-of-center charm, because I have a sour taste in my mouth after travelling to the hopeless fountain kingdom. I’m not sure why, though, I can’t remember much of what I heard and I only just left.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
June 3rd 2017


312 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Knew this was going to be a great review after that hilarious summary. I can't stand this album/artist.

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 3rd 2017


28390 Comments


Awesome work.

Digging: John Nolan - Abendigo

verdant
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2017


2294 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

cheers Sowing, love your work

Tunaboy45
June 3rd 2017


16583 Comments


Of all the Lorde-lite artists that have popped up in the last 3 or so years (Daya, Alessia Cara, etc), Halsey is without a doubt the most obnoxious and the worst.

verdant
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2017


2294 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i guess i agree although i think that comparison is easily avoided. i love lorde, too



btw thank you for the feature, means a lot

FullOfSounds
June 3rd 2017


15764 Comments


album looks like a trainwreck

Tunaboy45
June 3rd 2017


16583 Comments


I love Lorde too and now she's back we can forget all about the pound shop knockoffs of her

verdant
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2017


2294 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

FOS: it's not as captivating as a trainwreck



and yeah tunaboy i am so excited although i just wish she abstained from releasing so much of the album before release

Tunaboy45
June 3rd 2017


16583 Comments


Let's hope she keeps it to those 3 songs now. It's out in like 2 weeks so I can't see her releasing anything else but you never know.

verdant
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2017


2294 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yah but she's played two songs live from the record so i'm trying my best to forget i heard them ahaahah

Tunaboy45
June 3rd 2017


16583 Comments


Oh I haven't heard those two and I'll keep it that way haha.

JesperL
June 3rd 2017


312 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

"you like moose blood? i supported them when they came to my town bc my friends band needed a fill-in guitarist. they seemed like really nice guys"



really like them yeah! and that's awesome, apart from their (ex) drummer they seem like great people.

verdant
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2017


2294 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

oh yup i just heard about that a couple of days ago and that's a shame. the gig was a net positive experience though ahahah

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
June 3rd 2017


818 Comments


Awesome review again, and I'll be sure to avoid this for the Romeo and Juliet reading

Digging: Milanku - Monument du non?-?tre & Mouvement du non?-?vivant

xLiamStrongx
June 3rd 2017


42 Comments


Great review! Nevertheless, I'm curious to listen to the album, if not just for a taste.

Ebola
June 3rd 2017


3343 Comments


Excellent review and even better summary.

Divaman
June 3rd 2017


3064 Comments


I keep getting these annoying e-mails from Live Nation with the description "A special message from Halsey". Why they think I would be happy to receive a special message from Halsey is anyone's guess.

Digging: Lisa Loeb - The Very Best of Lisa Loeb

wwf
June 3rd 2017


6170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

summary is instant pos





'Walls Could Talk' is straight up a Justin Timberlake/ Britney Spears song from like 2002



also 'Now or Never' is a straight up 'Needed Me' ripoff, which is why it's definitely the best song on the album, besides maybe the song with The Weeknd

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Green Baron
June 3rd 2017


24325 Comments


The first time I heard Now or Never the only thing I could think of was how it was a Needed Me ripoff

Digging: mewithoutYou - [Untitled]

literallyzach
June 3rd 2017


497 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

why is this album 16 songs long?? unbearable



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