Album Review: Badlands – Halsey

Halsey, an on-the-rise indie dream pop artist, released her debut album today, entitled Badlands to represent her state of mind while she was writing it. She’s already released one EP, entitled Room 93. With much anticipation leading up to the album release, Halsey herself has been beyond excited. She toured with Fifth Harmony this past summer, and sold out her upcoming headliner tour within hours. Halsey, a stage name that’s an anagram of her real name (Ashley), is a name that’s quickly becoming known.

The album cover.
The album cover.

Badlands kicks off with a track called Castle, which is groovy and driving. The opening to the song has haunting melodies that combine with Halsey’s lower voice to create a sound that accurately represents BadlandsHold Me Down is the next song, has a more electronic beat, if a bit eccentric. The lyrics are graphic and strong, with lines like, “They fight me/vigorous and angry/watch them pounce” and “But it’s the devil that’s trying to hold me down/hold me down/ sneaking out the back door/make no sound/knock me out/knock me out, saying that I want more/this is what I live for”. The song is upbeat and makes you want to stand up and dance. New Americana begins innocently enough, but reminds you more of a call-to-action than a pop song. With a chorus of, “We are the New Americana/high on legal marijuana/raised on Biggy and Nirvana/we are the New Americana,” it’s unifying and another great dancing song. The almost-choral vocals in the background give the song that “extra something”. Drive begins with some eccentric beats, like the sound of a car door slamming and keys being turned in the ignition. The squealing of tires pulls the song together, among synthesizer tones and Halsey’s low voice. Hard-hitting lyrics like, “All we do is drive/all we do is think about the feelings that we hide/all we do is sit in silence waiting for a sign/sick and full of pride,” make this song relatable for almost everyone. Roman Holiday is reminiscent of a childhood sweetheart and friend, one who Halsey grew up with and had incredible adventures with. With a less dance-y sound and one that’s a little slower (although still equally upbeat), Roman Holiday is a fantastic song. Colors is higher-pitched, bouncy, and smooth. Possibly my favorite song on the album, the chorus contains some great imagery, with, “Everything is blue/his pills, his hands, his jeans/and now I’m covered in the colors/pulled apart at the seams/and it’s blue/and it’s blue/everything is grey/his hair, his smoke, his dreams/and now he’s so devoid of color/he don’t know what it means/and he’s blue/and he’s blue”. Coming Down begins with a slower background and Halsey singing about a lover who’s both God and the Devil. Once again, with incredible lyrics and talented vocals, Halsey has created another great piece. Haunting is exactly that, with echoing vocals, high-pitched tones in the background, and the almost-choral backing vocals making a reappearance. Control has almost a toy-piano vibe at the beginning. It’s a little bit haunting, with a chorus of, “I’m bigger than my body/I’m colder than this home/I’m meaner than my demons/I’m bigger than these bones,” and “No, the kids cry out/Please stop, you’re scaring me/I can’t help this awful energy/God damn right, you should be scared of me/Who is in control?”. Young God, the next song, is explicit, so fair warning. The drum beat is slow and rhythmic, and the song begins with whispery voices. Halsey’s voice sounds almost as if it’s coming through a radio, and then bursts through to sound clear and low. Ghost, the finale, was released as a single long before Badlands, and has been one of my personal favorites. It’s sad, sweet, and reminiscent of someone who has changed from who she fell in love with. Despite the lyrics, it’s a fairly upbeat song and easy to dance to, like most of her music.

Halsey.
Halsey.

So, there you have it, folks. Badlands, a long-anticipated arrival of an album, was exactly as amazing as I expected it to be. I love Halsey, and she definitely did not disappoint with this album.

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