I’ve never been a big fan of Ellie Goulding. Oh she’s super talented with an amazing voice, but I just never got into her style of music. So when I heard that she was coming out with a new album I was interested, but skeptical that I would enjoy it. I was wrong. To me, at least, this is Ellie Goulding’s finest album to date. Halcyon is Goulding’s sophomore album and if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written you know that I have a theory about sophomore albums.
That theory isn’t very complex, simply put it says that an artist’s first album will be their best and their second album will suffer because of time. Meaning if you’re an artist and you make your first album at the age of 25 that means you’ve been sitting on that album for 25 years. You have a dearth of experiences to cull from to make that first album rich with emotion and an ability to convey that emotion to an audience.
The second album is oftentimes rushed out by a label hoping to capitalize on the momentum of that first album and isn’t as effective as the first one to get your emotion, message or feelings across. There are outliers to that and sometimes artists are just good at what they do and make great albums throughout their career (See: Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and The Avett Brothers). Ellie Goulding has released two EPs and an album and frankly the only song I’ve loved was her cover of Elton John’s “Your Song”.
Then she released halcyon and I was completely taken aback by how good it is. Again, this isn’t a condemnation on Ellie as an artist, but my own proclivities towards certain kinds of music, primarily electronic. I do not love the electronic scene and have always been disinclined to follow it’s immersion within the rock scene in general. I’ve viewed perhaps as people viewed disco in the 1970’s. Some love, others hate it and people like myself are merely indifferent to the sounds of computers making music.
There was something that changed my mind from hating to loving and that was the heavily moog synthesized sounds of Isao Tomita. There is a twinge of that in Ellie’s music, but this is definitely more on the dance electronic spectrum of things. What she has done with Halcyon is created a danceable album with excellent lyrical content and enough beats to keep a traditionalist like myself enthralled throughout. Listening to this album I sense more emotion than the first which as I described is rare and this album for better or worse, depending on what you like is less dark than the first album. To put it mildly this is the one of the best pop albums of the year.
Best Song: My Blood – Best lyrics, best emotion and best range of vocals. Just a phenomenal track.