Thursday, August 29, 2013

Track By Track Review: Ellie Goulding - Halcyon Days

Being issued as a re-release to her 2012 LP Halcyon, Ellie returns with new music in Halcyon Days. The album includes her first UK #1 and highest US debuting track with Burn.

Burn: Previously reviewed, and my opinion hasn't changed much since I reviewed it in July. It doesn't feel like Ellie, it's far too manufactured, and sucks out what makes Ellie's music so charming: her own lyrics and own sound. That being said, it's still a pretty good dance track, but Ellie can do better. B

Goodness Gracious: Ellie has successfully fused bubblegum pop with her own electronic sound. The Nate Reuss penned track blasts major chords on the same frequency as Anything Could Happen. It's good, but not quite great. The chorus is strangely irritating with its chipmunk vocals. B+

You My Everything: No typo, the title is indeed, You My Everything. "Everything" verges along being utterly charming, and also manufactured. Her lyrics are the original component here, but the production feels suffocated: it feels like Ellie's own ideas and lyrics are drowned out by her label's desires to make her a Pop Princess rather than Electro-Queen. C

Hearts Without Chains: Such a beautiful piano line, combined with Ellie's most passionate vocal ever, and laying-heart-on-the-line lyrics make "Hearts" pack a powerful punch (even if the subject matter seems to be a one-night stand). It's so raw, she sounds on the verge of tears in the 2nd verse, which is nothing we've seen from Goulding. Finally, some genuine artistry from Goulding has returned! A+

Stay Awake (Feat. Madeon): Originally a bonus track for Halcyon, "Awake" gets the Va Va Voom treatment and is now a standard album track. The excellent production from Madeon is the true star here, starting off with a guitar riff before swinging into a heavy electronic pulse. A huge standout on Halcyon is once more a standout on Halcyon Days. Single please? A++

Under Control: If someone ever made a playlist for songs to listen to while floating on a pink cloud in outer space, Under Control would be the very first selection. Lyrically, its very similar to her own Joy, "stood in the rain and watched you go / I feel a lump in my throat," is now "I'll never forget that feeling / When I watched you disappear." There is a little be desired in the chorus as well, it's fairly hookless, which makes it a bit dry. C+

Flashlight (Feat. DJ Fresh): Similar to Stay Awake, however the production here could be classified as dubstep with its gritty synths and absence of spanish guitar like its counterpart. It's pretty good, but the songs tempo makes it feel like it's running away, so instead of being able to enjoy the track, it feels as if you're being rushed through it. A-

How Long Will I Love You: Originally a The Waterboys track, Ellie pulls it off like it's her own. That being said, I Know You Care did a better job as a restrained piano ballad. C+

Halcyon Days seems to have drowned out Ellie's once budding originality as an artist. The lyrics are no longer complimented with fresh, new productions. Instead, we get the recycled pop-electronic productions that have seemed to have plagued the industry. Halcyon Days does have its standouts, but every song is either a standout or album filler, no in between. Combined with Halcyon's ideas, Halcyon Days does not compliment its predecessor by adding more incredible music; rather it compliments it by being an inferior album.

Vocals: B
Instrumentation/Production: C+
Lyrics: B+
Overall: C+