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Feedback: British is better

Music columnist Jackson Farley on Ellie Goulding's 'Halcyon'

By Jackson Farley | Oct. 18, 2012

Tags: Music

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What's British, vocally blessed and fantastic all over? You guessed it, Ellie Goulding! And the same applies to her new album, Halcyon, released Oct. 5. Halycon is essentially a bigger and better version of her previous release, Lights, a super kickin' electro-pop, dance-tastic album.

Ellie Goulding has always been successful at making catchy, synth-infused dance tracks, especially with her unique voice and incredible range. That same formula for perfect pop music didn't lose its charm on the new album. Halcyon is similar to Lights in its music style, but dynamically, the new album is on a whole new level.

The album kickstarts slow, droning synths, and then comes Goulding's soft, airy voice, piercing the quiet on "Don't Say a Word." The song has much darker tones than the music normally expected from Goulding, with an almost mysterious feel to it. This may surprise some people, as Goulding has never been much of a dark or mysterious artist. However, it works — so no complaining.

The album's lead single, "Anything Could Happen," is probably one of the most radio-ready songs, with a strong beat, simple lyrics and a lovely loop of "ooh's" throughout the choruses. "Anything Could Happen" is also a track that can be easily compared to Lights with its upbeat tempo and cheery ring to it. Ready, set, turn this song on -- and shake it a little bit.

More of Goulding's vocal looping occurs on "Only You," another track with dark overtones. Goulding repeats, "Only you can be the aching in my heart / My enemy, the only animal I couldn't fight / You hold me in the dark when storms arrive / Only you" throughout the song. This feeling of being hopelessly unable to resist is a recurring theme on Halcyon, an album packed with raw emotion.

Halcyon slows down a bit with the tracks "Halcyon," "Joy," "I Know You Care" and "Explosions." These ballad-style songs are all simply beautiful. Goulding's smooth and dreamy voice complements piano-driven songs quite nicely, a type of song Goulding is not typically accustomed to. In an interview with Dean Piper, Goulding described Halcyon as "very dark and very weird." In addition, the amount of emotion Goulding put in the album made it that much more personal.

"This album is going to be even more emotional," she says in the interview. "I wanted to make it so there is hope. I want to make an effect, whether it's happy or sad."

The most beautiful part of Halcyon lies in its diversity as an album. Lights, for the most part, was quite homogenous in its catchy pop thrills. However, Halcyon dares to shake things up a bit. Not even just in song tempos but also style-wise.

Lyrically, Halcyon is also wonderful. It contains the perfect amount of songs about heartbreak and longing but also joy and optimism, creating a good, emotionally pleasing balance. Halcyon also shows its diversity in the elements used in each song. Goulding seemed to be much more experimental on this album, using new techniques to change up the way she made her music. New beats and synths take her electro-pop goodness to the next level.

Overall, Halcyon rocks. The same Ellie Goulding that everyone discovered and grew to love is back with more awesomeness. Its uniqueness works to Goulding's advantage and shows the wide and impressive range of her artistry. At the end of the day, everyone just needs a little bit of British in their life. And for that little bit of British, I, for one, would recommend Ellie Goulding. You're welcome.

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