MANIC (HALSEY)

RELEASED 17TH JANUARY 2020

Favourite track: Still Learning

Great vocal work as she tells us about her contrasting emotions with an Alternative back-drop.  

I knew of Halsey since ‘New Americana’ back in 2015. The US Pop singer has released a lot of music since and collaborated with various artists, with ‘Eastside’ (collaboration with Khalid) being one of my favourites. Her new 16-track album Manic shows cover art of her with a pastel-ish background and eye/hair colour. It’s quite dreamy even though she looks lost and confused in it.

Image credit: Wikipedia

‘Ashley’ opens with odd alien-like vocal FX and then a slow beat comes in as she sings with a voice distortion. The chorus is powerful and follows a Pop structure although the whole feel of it is Alternative/Experimental Pop. It is “manic” in the way that it bursts with song and then is reduced to silence all of a sudden before vocals and a beat come back. I like the piano on ‘clementine’ and the vocals are clean and beautiful in this. The backing then comes in and it sounds out of sync but then you get used to it and it works. She talks about how she “don’t need anyone” but then also “needs everyone”, generating a story of internal conflict. ‘Graveyard’ opens with strummed guitar and I soon realised I had heard this one before (I’m pretty sure whilst out shopping). This one is a hit and it is very catchy so it’s no surprise.

‘You should be sad’ opens with guitar and an American vocal sound as she speaks about how she “tried to help” someone she loved but now she’s glad she left. It’s got elements of sadness but also anger. ‘Forever…(is a long time)’ is a sad song with melancholic piano and beautiful vocals. There is a toy box feel to ‘Dominic’s Interlude’ featuring Dominic Fike which then becomes upbeat and builds into a Queen-esque vocal. The Toy Box sound is continued into ‘I HATE EVERYBODY’ as she talks about how her friends must think of her based on her romantic choices and repeated mistakes. ‘3am’ opens with a synth build and then cuts into her vocals with some hard rock guitar as she reflects her chaotic thoughts in a bar on a night out as she needs to have company. I like the opening instrumental to ‘Without Me’ and the beat that comes in. I soon realised how this was another hit track that has been played on the radio for sure which is why I recognised it. It is a great tune though.

‘Finally // beautiful stranger’ has a slow, guitar, acoustic vibe as she talks about someone she met and how she is scared that he will “do her wrong” and it will be a fleeting visit but she is hoping it won’t be. Alanis Morissette features on ‘Alanis’ Interlude’ which is about not seeing the difference when it comes to loving a man or a woman. ‘killing boys’ opens with a creepy audio and a heartbeat background as two girls talk about killing a boy. It’s dramatic in its build but maintains a Pop structure. SUGA and BTS feature on ‘SUGA’s Interlude’ which opens with piano and dreamy vocals and the Korean rap from BTS which works so well and adds a whole dimension to the song. ‘More’ opens with quick bursts of vocal rhymes. It then becomes a song as she talks about how she just wants someone more after everything. ‘Still Learning’ has a great backing and beat that you can move to (actually weirdly similar to ‘Own It’ by Stormzy). It’s my favourite track of the album. The final track ‘929’ which is about her life so far and a reflection on it with all the good, bad and ugly moments as she looks in the mirror to see herself as she is now compared to when she was younger.

This album is good to have on when travelling as it’s long, varied and the vocals are wonderful.