I was really looking forward to hearing Ellie Goulding’s sophomore effort. Not because I loved her first album exactly but because I randomly came across the new lead single, ‘Anything Could Happen’, online a few weeks ago and my mind was pretty much blown. It is easily one of my favourite singles of 2012 so far. Having said that, I can’t help but confess to being a little disappointed upon finally hearing the whole album. It’s not that it’s bad – in fact, sonically speaking, the production and mixing is masterful – it’s just that the other tracks rarely equal the lead single’s excellence.
On top of this, although always note perfect, Goulding’s ethereal vocals often lack the gravity and grit to express the weight and intensity of some of the lyrical content (for instance, in the song ‘Only You’ – where she repeatedly sings, ‘Baby, I’m on my knees’ – it needs to be more desperate or pleading sounding to be believable and effective). This is not the case in the more stripped down tracks, where her voice soars both effortlessly and emotively, but it is generally the case in the more upbeat and electro sounding tracks.
As well as this, the slick and ‘sampled’ sounding background vocal loops in ‘Only You’ and ‘Explosions’ jar with Goulding’s main vocal delivery rather than enhance it. They are the kind of textural loops that would work perfectly on a Kanye West song but, for some reason, not here. Despite my criticisms, I know this album will do really, really well. And I think it probably deserves to.
Standout tracks: Anything Could Happen, I Know You Care, Dead In the Water.
Halcyon is out now.