Whilst a lot of us may have only recently had the name Halsey appear on our radar, the 20 year old from New Jersey has been an internet sensation for quite some time, building a dedicated fanbase around the release of her EP, Room 93.
From YouTube covers to SoundCloud originals, Halsey – real name Ashley Frangipane – now has her debut album in hands all across the globe, and if our review is anything to go by, this is only the start of a successful career from an insanely talented musician.
Apple Music describes Halsey as a “hypnotic new voice emerging”, and this 16-track album is a concept record highly influenced by sex. Her raw and aggressive tone through a lot of the songs keep this debut honest and true to Halsey’s own life. The 20 year old is not shy of making it known she has struggled with her sexuality and mental illness growing up, but is sure to bite at tabloids for defining her in headlines as “biracial and bisexual” instead of focusing on her music. Alas, this all comes hand in hand on BADLANDS.
Opening track Castle is laced with attitude and thuds of anticipation. A perfect introduction of what is to come on BADLANDS, and we waste no time when we’re thrown into the sexy, fierce Hold Me Down, which has proved a crowd favourite at recent live appearances.
The highly personal stories throughout the 16 tracks keep you hooked. You want to know more about Halsey’s love affair, her sexual awakening, her personal redemption. This isn’t an album you want to skip. This is an album you want to have on it’s highest volume in a dark room, to later scream your favourite lyrics with your friends. It’s an album for music lovers, in more genres than expected.
Personal standouts on BADLANDS lie within New Americana, which was pushed firmly into my favourites after the incredible VEVO Lift version (above). Roman Holiday almost sounds like it’s fresh of a Taylor Swift album yet dunked into a pool of attitude, “Cause I imagine the weight of your ribs if you lie between my hips in the backseat” croons Halsey over this mellow, summer beat. Ghost is lifted from the Room 93 EP, and is still a firm favourite amongst many fans. More strong entries are Strange Love, Young God, and the reference back to Hurricane in Gasoline is subtle yet iconic. Finally, the enchanting and somewhat haunting vocals on album closer I Walk The Line are something truly special.
As a whole, BADLANDS is an incredible debut. The album screams escape and honesty, and Halsey bites right down to the core with her lyrics. Despite saying her favourite thing about BADLANDS is that “it’s not a radio record and none of the songs are hits”, I disagree. Every song is a hit.
Recently finishing a tour with Imagine Dragons, and securing a support slot with The Weeknd, Halsey also plays two massive headline shows in the UK in September, with her first time playing in London selling out Camden’s iconic Koko. Halsey is 100% one to look out for, and I can’t wait for what’s next.
Get BADLANDS on iTunes now.
Review by Jayde Engledew