Okay okay okay, I know you’ve all been spending the last while binging House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, but while you were pretending to like Doug (or Piper), Halsey dropped her latest album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom and because I’m a millennial and a Libra and it’s pure magic, I’m going to tell you what I think.
If Halsey has done a million things right with this album, the brightest of them all has been her choice of singles. Now or Never, which sets the tone of the album – strong lyrics, vocally magical and exposing old influences; Eyes Closed haunting and dim and dark and beautiful and already reviewed in our Singles section; Strangers which features Lauren Jauregui which is sexy and sly and preparing us for the alternative pop that Halsey gives us.
Prologue opens the album with a single mic and Halsey reciting a portion of the prologue of Romeo and Juliet, setting us up for the star-crossed romance tale we are in store for. Similar, breaking the album in half, Good Morning is another interlude of drawn chorus vocals and kids talking about the story almost indirectly
100 Letters plays pop with a message as we are used to with Halsey’s other work, but this song seems more of an admission than anything, similar to Hopeless ft Cashmere Cat (“the good die young but so did this”) and Bad at Love – these are the songs that remind us of what Halsey does, alternative pop with an edge, and while these songs are pop based, the rest of the album is something entirely different. Lie (featuring Quavo) as well Don’t Play as is pop and fast and cool as hell and should be inserted into radio circulation as soon as possible.
Heaven in Hiding is one of the best songs on the album (past the singles) fast paced quick little country beats that move into that alt-pop from verse to chorus, with strong vocals that you just want to set as your life’s soundtrack and run to.
Sorry is slow and sweet and heartbreaking, reminding of Is There Somewhere from Room 93 (2014), another of my favorite songs of the album, showcasing Halsey as a singer-songwriter and impossible to pin down.
Influenced and Influential
Another incredible song is one that plays a little funky strong is Alone, with some saxophone, fast funk, Halsey is showcasing and old soul and old sounds timeless enough to only come through with real talent (and not Robin Thicke), everything about this song is powerful and influenced by magic and MJ I’m sure.
Instead of pretending none of us have shamelessly sung along to boyband music, this fast orchestra sound strings recalls some 90s boyband N’Sync fever. Walls Could Talk is an incredible addition to the album, the ever-admirable Halsey showing off her influences, never shying away from a thing in the most powerful way.
The last songs, Angel on Fire also recalls the Badland era circa Hurricane, and if the Halsey is an angel this album is the proof while Devil In Me is similar but darker (“I don’t want to wake it up… Now I gotta wake it up”). These songs reflect Halsey past and present, while the rest of the album showcases who Halsey is, unable to pin down, androgynous, a chameleon, able to fit everywhere, anytime, anyway and still kill it. Changing what pop is, what alternative rock is and helping to curate alternative pop filling the shoes of other icons like MJ, Prince, and Bowie.
Wherever this album takes you, I hope you have as much fun there as I’m having.