On 8 October, Ellie Goulding’s new album Halcyon hit the shelves nearly three years after the release of her triple-platinum, number one, debut album Lights which sold one and a half million copies. Many British fans have been chomping at the bit to hear some new material from Hereford-born Ellie, left patiently waiting while she chased success in America. With only two new tracks added when Lights was re-released as Bright Lights in November 2010, this new album is long overdue. As a massive Ellie Goulding fan myself, Halcyon had big shoes to fill.
Halcyon by definition means calm, peaceful and tranquil; three adjectives that pretty much sum up the overall vibe of this album. Straying from the usual punchy, memorable pop tunes that won her the BBC Sound of 2010 poll and The Brits Critics Choice Award, Halcyon has more mellow undertones with an atmospheric, instrumental current running through the majority of tracks, particularly in the opening song ‘Don’t Say a Word’ which could be straight off a movie soundtrack. Having said this, songs like ‘Anything Can Happen’, the first single to emerge from Halcyon, and ‘Only You’ feel more like familiar territory as we hear echoes of Ellie’s traditional style of foot-tapping beats and synthesised effects that reminded me of‘ Under the Sheets’, and ‘Guns and Horses’ from the first album. ‘I Need Your Love’ – the bonus track featuring Calvin Harris is a guaranteed club smash with a big tune.
This album is undoubtedly different from the last, and I must admit, it did take a few listens to get used to the more chilled out style Ellie’s adopted this time around. Ellie split up with Radio 1 DJ Greg James in late 2011, and you can really hear the confusion and anguish she felt in her lyrics – “I’m caught in the crossfire of my own thoughts”. Halcyon shows a new, more sophisticated side to her music, with songs such as ‘My Blood’ and ‘Joy’ telling the tale of a struggling relationship through sad tunes and personal words which I think anyone could relate to. Ellie recently said “I didn’t set out to write a break-up record but I think it became one “, and this is evident even from the first listen.
What stands out above all on this record is the quality of her hauntingly beautiful ghost-like vocals that dominate every track. Her distinctive tone is perhaps even better since ‘Lights’ and after a few listens these songs were almost impossible to get out of my head. Combine this with catchy beats and words that tug at your heart strings and you have a winner for me.
In a sentence; Ellie Goulding fans, you may be uncertain at first but I urge you to persevere and you will eventually appreciate the album and the changes Ellie’s made since Lights. If you’re unfamiliar with Ellie then sit back and enjoy this beautifully-crafted record, but make sure you don’t miss out on some of the amazing tracks her first album has to offer too!