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Halsey - Manic (Album Review)

Tuesday, 21 January 2020 Written by Milly McMahon

Halsey’s ‘Manic’ begins with a statement. The opening song is called Ashley, the artist’s real name, and it sets the stage for a mixed bag that nevertheless continues the pop powerhouse’s evolution as a raw, honest artist.

This 16 track album takes the form of a confessional and incorporates a number of new elements, notably a country aesthetic that reverberates out from the twanging single You Should Be Sad. But as she openly discusses everything that has pained and tested her throughout her recent life with some profound and full-on lyrics, the production feels overly simplified.

For example, I Hate Everybody (all caps on the tracklisting for effect) is a patronising misfire. Channelling a sing-song, nursery rhyme format, Halsey sings about genuine issues and feelings over poorly juxtaposed anthemic instrumentation. 

We have come to know this boundary-pushing chart anarchist as an advocate for non-conformity and yet this album tethers her to pop music more claustrophobically than ever before.

3AM, on which Halsey's voice is allowed to wander to a place that lays bare its full potential, gets lost in bizarre, muffled guitars and drums that play on like a karaoke backing track. Even You Should Be Sad feels overly autotuned and rushed, with all its emotional potential lost.

Disappointingly, the strongest track here is an oldie. The smash hit Without Me remains an incredibly provocative and beautiful ode to a love lost. This was Halsey's first release from ‘Manic’ back in 2018 and it held such promise for a big album that would spotlight the talent of a brilliant writer. The track possesses the kind of magic that compels the listener to hit repeat without ever growing bored of its lyrics. 

The manner in which this magic has been squandered elsewhere on the mediocre songs that fill ‘Manic’ is a crying shame. The only saving grace here is that when Halsey takes to the stage to showcase this new material the power of her voice might convey the impact of her words in a more tangible and less washed out manner.

Halsey Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat March 07 2020 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Sun March 08 2020 - LONDON O2 Arena
Tue March 10 2020 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Thu March 12 2020 - MANCHESTER Arena

Click here to compare & buy Halsey Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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