|Article first published as Music Review: Ellie Goulding – Halcyon on Blogcritics.
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With her hit single, “Lights,” Ellie Goulding made a name for herself, and the United States quickly fell in love with her. Her name was plastered everywhere as “Lights” became one of the most covered songs of the year, being remixed by DJs such as Kap Slap, Max Gordon, and the most popular, Bassnectar. Since “Lights,” Ellie Goulding has had many other hits to keep her popularity including “Starry Eyed” and her cover of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Now, over a year past the release date for her first album, Lights, Goulding is releasing her second album, Halcyon, on October 9, and listeners can expect that same amazing sound they are familiar with.
Halcyon is full of electronic sounds, beautiful harmonies, and amazing vocals. It’s hard to choose the must-listen songs because, in all honesty, every song is a must-listen. The first single from Halcyon, “Anything Could Happen,” features a very upbeat sound, which is especially apparent in the chorus, where the electronic rhythm takes over. In addition, the broad range of vocal levels that Goulding expresses is partnered with exceptional harmonies. “Anything Could Happen” does a great job for setting the stage for many of the songs on the album such as “Hanging On,” “Figure 8,” and “Don’t Say a Word.”
People might most be familiar with “Hanging On” from the single that Goulding partnered with Tinie Tempah on, which can be found on the deluxe edition of the album; however, the version on Halcyon is just as amazing. The song starts with an increasing electronic beat accompanied by high-pitch vocals. When the beat drops at the chorus, the music seems to overcome the vocals before leveling out and finding equilibrium. Unlike anticipated, the beat does not remain constant throughout the song, but instead becomes heavier toward the end of the song.
“Figure 8” starts off suspenseful, beginning as if the vocals are stirring up the beat – they almost resemble a chant. Then, the chorus picks up the overall feel of the song with a very strong piano beat lingering in the background, as if someone was pounding the keys with all of his or her might. However, what brings about that familiar Goulding sound is the calm and steady electronic beat that builds up throughout the entire song, from beginning to end.
Another song with a very suspenseful beginning is “Don’t Say a Word.” The song starts off with a very slow beginning: a haunting feel that allows us to hear the range of Goulding’s vocals. The song gives us a feel for the deeper, darker side of Goulding’s sound. Ultimately, “Don’t Say A Word” moves into a very electronic beat, similar to “Figure 8,” while still maintaining the vocals that are unique to it.
On another note, Halcyon also features songs on a completely different spectrum. “My Blood” is an absolute must-listen. At the start of the song, for the first verse, the vocals almost do not even resemble Goulding; it definitely provides a new, unexpected sound from her. No fear, however, because the chorus is the same familiar voice that we expect from her. In addition, the song features extremely fantastic harmony and piano accompaniment. I’m not sure why, but this song truly makes me want to dance in the rain.
A personal favorite, “Explosions” really confuses you because you expect something completely different due to the title of the song, but instead you’re surprised in a good way. This song has so much going on and so much packed into four minutes. “Explosions” features a very choir-like sounding harmony, strings rather than an electric beat, a piano that joins the strings with a very fast paced and repetitive sound, and finally percussion that joins in with a very steady and soft beat. The background music almost seems to tell a story, truly expressing the meaning of the song.
Finally, the title song, “Halcyon,” features a calm, steady beginning beat with speedy lyrics and beautiful harmonies. Then, the chorus begins, truly separating itself from the rest of the song. What also stands out is the post-chorus sound, which is filled with fade-ins and fade-outs that just bring more attention to her amazing vocals.
Overall, Halcyon will just continue to make fans fall in love with Ellie Goulding. She maintains her unique vocals throughout the entire album. In addition, she continues to show her electronic side while introducing a new, deeper side of her vocals. Simply put, Halcyon is a must-listen album.