When Ellie Goulding burst onto the music scene with her debut album Lights in 2010, the English songstress impressed audiences with her entrancing voice and alternative-pop sound. Now, Goulding brings audiences a darker and more mature listening experience in the form of her second album, Halcyon.
Goulding told Carson Daly during an interview that, “[Halcyon is] like a bird that … would lay its eggs by the sea and bring calm to the stormy waters, and a lot of my songs on this record are about the ocean and water.” This explains the ability of certain tracks to create a profound calmness as you are completely engulfed by Goulding’s ethereal vocals. Halcyon is then a suitable title for the album that speaks of her heartache and recovery after break-up with ex-boyfriend, Skrillex.
In 2011 Goulding discussed the musical direction of the album on the website, DeanPiper.com, stating that, “This album for me is a journey from dark into light, from confusion to understanding … I didn’t set out to write a break-up record, but I think it became one.” Goulding has poured heart and soul into the writing and production of each track on Halcyon, bringing her audience a deeper and edgier take on the tired topic of love and lost love. The songstress has produced an authentic and personal album that any listener who has gone through a break-up will be able to empathise with.
“What if you never said anything?” Goulding croons in husky tones, starting up the first song of the album “Don’t Say a Word”. “My Blood” serves as the introduction to the water and ocean theme that runs throughout the album, with the piano melody a beautiful compliment to Goulding’s soprano in a powerful chorus. Another highlight of the album is “Figure 8”, with Goulding’s vocal loops chasing unrequited love. “I chased your love around a figure eight / I need you more than I can take,” Goulding belts out against the backdrop of an addictive dubstep beat.
Goulding’s soprano is piercing at times when she sticks to one pitch for just a minute too long, but Halcyon’s magic comes from Goulding’s unrelenting enthusiasm as she weaves together dubstep, eletro-pop and orchestral accents to form her signature sound.