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Album name: Halcyon

Artist: Ellie Goulding

Label: Polydor Records (UK)

Lyrics:  Ash Howes, Rocky Morris, Mima Stilwell, Calvin Harris, Jonny Lattimer , Ellie Goulding, John Fortis, Jim Eliot, Rufio Sandilands, Patrick James Grossi, Fin Dow-smith, Richard Stannard, Justin Parker, Ariel Rechtshaid

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Halcyon, the second studio album by English recording artist Ellie Gouldingis a hot mess of GORGEOUS vocals and tracks that almost completely do it justice!

Released on October 5th 2012 by Polydor Records, this was an album I wasn’t completely ready for. The only song by Ellie Goulding I’d listened to before this was Bittersweet from the Breaking Dawn OST which now seems mediocre (which is saying something as it was one of my favourite songs of the OST) compared to the searing intensity and range covered by Goulding in Halcyon that blew. me. away.

Categorised as indie pop, synth pop and dream pop (a departure from her electro-folk pop sound in her debut, Lights) this 46:54 minute album might be slow to grow on you. It takes time to fully appreciate the depths that Goulding’s voice can take you to with every complex turn of often repetitive lyrics.

Track Rating
Don’t Say A Word ★★★☆☆
My Blood ★★★☆☆
Anything Could Happen ★★★½☆
Only You ★★★★★
Halcyon ★★★★☆
Figure 8 ★★★½☆
Joy ★★★★☆
Hanging On ★★★☆☆
Explosions ★★★★★
I Know You Care ★★★½☆
Atlantis ★★½☆☆
Dead In The Water ★★★½☆
I Need Your Love (Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding) ★★★☆☆
Lights ★★★★☆

Album Analysis:

Don’t Say A Word

The instrumentation is gentle yet kind of restless. Goulding’s voice is soft, lilting and perfect for the song as she convinces you with every inflection and repetition.

My Blood

Whether it is the twinkly piano, the rhythmic beats or Goulding’s kind of gospel-y voice in the chorus, all of it makes My Blood work. Her voice is powerful and packed with wild conviction!

Anything Could Happen

This is a sunnier song with catchier beats. For some reason, the opening of this track reminded me of a Tegan and Sara song before the chorus whooshes in and begs you to let your hair loose! It has a really catchy hook and is the perfect summer song; as whimsical as the beginning of a summer fling.

Only You

By far my favourite song of the album. There’s something so strong, so firm and I’m-not-going-anywhere about the woman in this song; despite the lyrics that leak of need and desperation. The rhythm is complex, the beat going perfectly with the variation in range employed by Goulding in this track.

Halcyon

The title track definitely picks up at the chorus. The instrumentals are soothing, taking us to scenic depths. What’s great is that this only makes the lyrics that are very minimalist even more strongly grounded and intense in comparison. Goulding’s voice is the key to the depths that are reached through the complex layers of instrumentation and word. You can feel the loneliness, the wavering conviction and swathes of life pour out, uncensored, in a way that’s raw and in no way overwhelming.

Figure 8

This song is a rush… a tangle of emotions… The background instrumentals make you feel like you are cartwheeling into a dizzy mess… till the words “And lovers hold on to anything” are stuck to your throat.

Joy

Joy has such a beautifully majestic rhythm and the most beautiful lyrics. The arrangement is so simple and there is such control in Goulding’s voice and pace of the words which is oddly fitting; even if the song is about the realization that she is falling apart when in the brink of self discovery. “I’ve figured out the joy is not in your arms/I know I’ll always ache with an empty heart/I think it’s time to run cause I’m seeing stars/I’m seeing stars watch me fall apart.”

Hanging On

Another showcase of Goulding’s powerful vocals that do way more to capture the intensity of the brokenness and the despair of the moment than the lyrics; which rely too much on repetition and have absolutely no substance. Goulding’s upper vocals are however incredible here!

Explosions

It’s a song that explodes with quiet brilliance; with lyrics that convey so much by filling you with scenes that are packed with raw emotion. Goulding’s vocals are more relaxed here as she practically narrates this tale in a manner that is soulful and filled with fervor; doing complete justice to the lyrics. The piano accompaniment ensures that the spotlight is on the heartbreakingly honest lyrics.

I Know You Care

For some reason, this song reminded me of Sara Bareilles’ Love Song (only far more plaintive); with its lyrical richness and simplicity in the melody. You will want to listen to this song more than once!

Atlantis

I loved the chorus but overall, I wasn’t head over heels in love with this song like I am with most of the songs in this album. It definitely has a different sound from the other tracks and it goes without saying that Goulding’s vocals are wonderful.

Dead in the Water

While it’s not my favourite song in the album, Dead in the Water is the first song I warmed up to. The STILLNESS of this song, with the complete quietness in the background score really sucked me in.

I Need Your Love

This dance-y track was so unexpected! Still, this is a very Top 40 number and definitely catchy. It helps that there is so much ELLIE even in what could be a clichéd dance pop track with the range of emotions that encompass her vocals.

Lights

Taken from her first album, Lights. I loved that this track was included in Halcyon.  I haven’t had the chance to listen to her debut album yet and this track definitely makes me want to give it a listen! I heard that her debut has a very different sound to it and that’s very apparent from this track. It’s less intense, more relaxed but is still so full of the distinctive Goulding magic!

Album Verdict: This album maybe slow to grow on you but once it does, Goulding’s vocals are guaranteed to blow you away!

Picks of the album:  Only You, Halcyon, Joy, Explosions and Lights

Album Rating : ★★★★★★★½☆☆