Halsey struts her stuff, affirming that there's no one like her right now in mainstream music
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Alternative pop star Halsey has been rising through the ranks the past few years. After getting buzz in 2015 via Justin Bieber and her own debut album, she entered the mainstream zeitgeist after appearing on The Chainsmokers‘ worldwide smash ‘Closer.’ However she’s much more than a featured artist. Her new album ‘hopeless fountain kingdom’ is an atmospheric smash that showcases the young artist’s ability to command an audience.
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While Halsey herself may label her music as alternative, a more correct term would be pop. Sure her music contains many of the same qualities that artists like Grimes and Banks have (spacey, synthy ethos with rhythmic undertones), but Halsey’s knack for a good hook firmly places her in the pop world. Which isn’t a bad thing, no matter how many indie heads tell you that pop music is ‘dead.’ In fact it’s artists like Halsey who’re keeping it alive and well.
While some pop artists tend to go the safe route, Halsey’s experimentation and creative risks work wonders on this album. Think of The Weeknd’s last two albums and you’ll have an idea of what this record is shooting for: pop/R&B with tons of anthemic choruses and airy textures. Tracks like ‘Now Or Never,’ ‘Eyes Closed’ and ‘Bad At Love’ are smashes that not only highlight the young artist’s vocals but are aesthetically pleasing to the ears. They’re just fun to listen to.
Lyrically the album contains a loose modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet scattered throughout, where Halsey opens up about her bisexuality and the ups and downs that kind of relationship can bring. Songs like ‘Heaven In Hiding,’ ‘Now Or Never’ and ‘Strangers’ have Halsey and another women’s characters meeting at a party and falling in love, only to face resistance from others. It’s a bold concept that is pulled off for the most part, even if the narrative is thrown off every now and again as the record plays out. The impressive part of the album however isn’t how well the concept is pulled off but how appealing the songs are whilst also doubling as part of the story.
“I can put on a show,” Halsey declares on ‘Heaven In Hiding.’ She certainly does on ‘hopeless fountain kingdom.’ Her confidence, sexiness and inclusiveness are all on full display, making her the biracial, bisexual superstar that some would say is desperately needed in today’s society. The grandiose of the album is apparent from the get go and Halsey never lets up, making this one of those albums that you never want to end and one of this year’s best pop albums to date.
‘hopeless fountain kingdom’ is out now via Astralwerks