Monday, October 15, 2012

Ethereal Ellie's Halcyon


I love this album. I love love love Ellie Goulding's Halcyon. Maybe I love the idea of it more than I actually love it, but I really do love it, really. It's everything that it should be. It's everything that she should be. And it feels true to her. This is what Florence Welch could have sounded like on Ceremonials if the songs weren't so busy, and if Florence's voice wasn't ice cold. This is what Marina & the Diamonds should have striven for on her too Top 40-esque Electra Heart - songs that are real, songs that are POP without striving to fit an overdone POP mold. This is what Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan could have created with The Haunted Man if she wasn't so busy being the High Priestess of Pitchfork - songs that are unique, but aren't so alternative as to feel inaccessible, and thus, unemotional. For where Ellie is in her musical trajectory, Halcyon is perfect.

A lot of critics don't like this album, and I've come to the conclusion that they will never like what Ellie does. She is too POP for the hipsters. Heaven forbid something is catchy enough to not sound like a carefully crafted compilation of beat-driven farts. God forbid something actually contain a semblance of musicality. Unfortunately, Ellie is also too alternative for the mainstream POP crowd. Thus, when mentioning that you are a fan of her's, you will be met with awkward glares from people thinking you're posturing as a Williasmburg-ite with non-prescription glasses, when in fact, you are indeed legally blind! (or close enough, anyway...)

Ellie's melodies are real melodies. Her choruses soar. Occasionally, though, she will veer off in an unexpected direction with chords that don't fit the rest of the song. This is a choice Katy Perry would not have made. With only one hit single to her name, Ellie is unidentifiable to most Americans, who likely don't even know what she looks like or what any of her other songs are aside from Lights.

So I guess, in the end, Ellie fans will never be cool in America, and that suits me perfectly. I was never the popular kid, nor was I one of the goths smoking pot by the dumpsters only to become a bonafide Animal Collective fan wearing oversized Weezy scarves two years later. Nope, I was and still am the kid with an oversized backpack and sinus issues, the outsider of outsiders, and Ellie suits me just fine.

My take on the tracks:

1. Don't Say A Word is worth listening to simply for the haunting falsetto that opens the album.
2. My Blood - This is just pretty. I like pretty, sparkly things.
3. Anything Could Happen - I thought this song was so weird at first, but after listening to it 20 times in one hour, I loved it. Halcyon is a relatively low-key, mournful album, but this song has an air of optimism I can hold onto.
4. Only You is a bit too weird for my taste. It features tribal beats, and I'm an urban/suburban boy. I don't do well in the jungle.
5. Halcyon - Boring. I don't even remember what it sounds like.
6. Figure 8 - I hear Skrillex's influence on this dub-steppy track. This song combines ballad-like verses with a chorus that's ready for the club. Really interesting and catchy. It's easy to get sick of, though.
7. JOY is really gorgeous and catchy. It's happy and sad. It's amazingness squared.
8. Hanging On - Ellie's cover of The Weeknd's song is better than the original.
9. Explosions - Beautiful and heartbreaking.
10. I Know You Care - Also beautiful and heartbreaking. Ellie wrote it with Justin Parker, who co-wrote Video Games with Lana Del Rey wannabe Turner. This is so much better than Video Games. Ellie mentioned that it's about her dad leaving her family when she was quite young. I love any song that's not centered on romance.
11. Atlantis - More gorgeous falsetto. This may be the best song on the album.
12. Dead in the Water - Very simple and sad. It shimmers.
13. I Need Your Love ft. Calvin Harris - Sounds a bit like MSTRKRFT's Heartbreaker ft. John Legend. This is the best thing Calvin Harris has done since We Found Love. Thank GOD, as I was getting sick of all his other crappy collabs.
1. Ritual - Once again, a song that is way too tribal for my liking. I have jungle fever and am in desperate need of some air conditioning.
12. In My City - Love love love! Ellie's ode to her hometown was written with and produced by Billboard, who has worked on hits with Robyn (Call Your Girlfriend) and Britney ('Till the World Ends). Another non-love song. Holler!
13. Without Your Love - Jungle-ee. Currently running away from the tigers. Unfortunately, I don't run. (I occasionally elliptical.)

Rawrr! You sexy beast, you.
Unapologetically,

Gregory

1 comment:

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