Album Review: Ellie Goulding – Halcyonby krista kurisaki on Oct, 12 2012
Genre: Indie synth-pop
US Release: Oct 09, 2012
When I first heard that Ellie Goulding was releasing new material, I had two reactions. First came the excitement. After all, it has been a while since the electro-wonder that is “Lights” made its way up the US charts. But my second reaction was of
confusion. Wait… what exactly is a Halcyon? (As you can see, I’m not afraid to ask the difficult questions.) So, being the inquisitive Berkeley student I am, I googled it. The results were interesting, to say the least. Scientifically, Halcyon is a genus of birds. But according to Greek legend, the Halcyon was a bird that laid its eggs on the ocean, bringing with it calm weather to protect its floating nest. And it’s with this image of tranquility and peace that Goulding’s sophomore album takes flight.
Starting off with the haunting and ethereal “Don’t Say a Word,” Halcyon is a clear departure from Ellie Goulding’s predominantly electronic sound. This time around, most of the tracks layer her distinctive airy vocals over more minimalistic and dubstep influenced beats, possibly as a result of her relationship with fellow musician Skrillex. And as much as I love her simple acoustic sessions, the darker production really lends itself to the overall feel of the album. The emotion and chaos of unrequited love is never made clearer than throughout the chorus of “Figure 8″; “Only You” has a rhythmic pulse that will stay with you for days. But Goulding has made sure to include some stripped down tracks too, including the second single “I Know You Care,” a piano-driven ballad about lost love. Lyrically, she remains as artistic and starry-eyed as ever, gaining co-writing credits on all songs on the record (except for one cover, “Hanging On”). In her opinion, Halcyon is “a journey from dark into light from confusion to understanding,” apparent on the standout track “My Blood,” in which she reveals she is “caught in the crossfire of [her] own thoughts.”
Halcyon is Ellie Goulding’s experimental foray into the grittier side of pop, an interesting turn for an artist whose first hit was about being afraid of the dark. But in retrospect, it’s a mature direction for her to take, proving her talent as both a vocalist and songwriter. Halcyon‘s soaring melodies and raw production are reminiscent of mysterious grey skies and crashing ocean waves. And with a Berkeley winter on the horizon, it’s the perfect accompaniment for that chilly walk down Telegraph.
Halcyon‘s first single “Anything Could Happen”