Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
Record Label: Interscope Records
Release Date: October 9th, 2012
Last Friday was November 23rd, which is Black Friday here in the United States. Thankfully, most stores had Black Friday deals throughout the entire Thanksgiving weekend, including both of British indie-pop artist Ellie Goulding’s records, 2010’s Lights and 2012’s Halcyon. I decided to pick both albums up because the sales were only good until that day. I didn’t want to take any chances, despite not having really been familiar with her beforehand. I decided to give Lights to myself as a Christmas gift, so the first album of hers I ever listened to was 2012’s Halcyon. After I listened to it, I was quite surprised, because I didn’t think I would like it so much. That’s not to say I thought she was awful beforehand, because the most I knew about her was that she was dating Sonny Moore aka Skrillex. Aside from that, I didn’t know too much about her, or her music. I just knew she was a British indie-pop artist that’s been garnering a lot of hype recently. It’s all for good reason, too; just by going on what I heard on Halcyon, she’s got a very nice set of pipes. That’s the main reason why I enjoy this record – she’s one of the best female vocalists I’ve ever heard. The record itself is a wonderful indie-pop affair, but aside from that, there’s not much I haven’t heard before, at least, haven’t heard from another artist / band.
The album starts with “Don’t Say a Word,” and the first song is always the most important. It’s important, because you want the listener to get sucked into the album. The last track is important as well, but not as much. You want the listener to have a good taste in their mouths as well. In terms of this album, the opening song is rather interesting. The tempo is slow, but it shows off Goulding’s voice. It’s not as poppy as I imagined it to be, which is a good surprise. This track doesn’t do a lot for me, but I like it, nonetheless. It keeps interested to see what’s going to happen. Next track “My Blood” has a bit of a faster tempo than “Don’t Say a Word,” and it also features some very nice harmonies during the chorus. It’s absolutely beautiful. Third track is first single “Anything Can Happen,” and to be honest, I had vaguely heard this song before I listened to this album. This girl is arguably the poppiest song on the record, and for good reason. This song is insanely catchy, and it’s definitely a pop song. Next track “Only You” really follows in its footsteps. This is how most of the album is, really; the songs are either indie, or pop. In a way, I really like that, but there isn’t too much variety on there. The main attraction is Goulding’s voice, and with good reason, because she’s a wonderful singer. Fifth track, and title track, “Halcyon,” is what I mean by an “indie” song – it’s more piano driven and is the complete opposite of a track like “Anything Could Happen.” Sixth track “Figure 8” is one of my favorite tracks on the album, and it really combines both the “indie” and “pop” sounds to make something really cool. Eighth track “Hanging On” is my other favorite track on the album for the exact reason, too.
The last few tracks are the most interesting, because suddenly, the album slows down immensely. It doesn’t slow down in terms of entertainment, but just the overall tempo of the music. They’re all ballads, essentially. Tenth track “I Know You Care” is a rather optimistic track about how Goulding obviously knows that someone she cares about cares about her, too. It’s a nice track, because it’s so “chill,” and that’s an appropriate word, since it’s approaching the winter. Eleventh track “Atlantis” followed in the same way, but it really doesn’t stand out too much, however, last track “Dead In the Water” does stand out a bit. This is another song that really demonstrates how great Goulding’s voice is, and her voice is definitely the main show of this song. It also closes out the album nicely, too, because it’s such a slow song. It ends it on a very slow note with a whole strings arrangement and a harmony. Basically, it leaves me wanting to listen to this album again.
The most interesting thing about this album is that I don’t normally listen to this kind of music. I do enjoy indie-pop, but not “mainstream” pop, like Ms. Goulding. I’m very surprised I enjoy this album as much as I did, but I would certainly listen to it again. As for the album as a whole, it’s a wonderful indie-pop album, but that’s it. Goulding’s lyrics are nice, but nothing I haven’t heard before. At times, the lyrics are really interesting, such as tracks like “Figure Out,” “Hanging On,” and “My Blood.” But others, they’re just rather cliché and even mediocre. That’s not to say the lyrics are horrible, because they’re not. They’re definitely not a high point of this record, though. The overall music is nice, too; it’s nothing terribly unique, but there is some variety. Some tracks are more piano driven, and others are purely pop driven, which does provide some contrast, which is good. This isn’t one of my favorite albums of the year, but Ellie Goulding is definitely an artist to watch.
Great review. I really dig this album. Also, if you like "Anything Could Happen", the Blood Diamond remix is awesome. I am not familiar with Blood Diamond, but this remix sounds like a cross between Ellie and Owl City/Sky Sailing.