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Ellie Goulding - Brightest Blue (Album Review)

Monday, 27 July 2020 Written by Huw Baines

Is it a positive or a negative that introspective pop records must still be packaged as gleaming, chart-facing pop records? Ellie Goulding’s ‘Brightest Blue’ is a genuine soul-searcher on paper, but in practice it’s an unwieldy, streaming-ready epic that misses a lot of its targets thanks to all the bits that bleed outside the lines.

In its best moments, it’s a muscular, euphoric journey into modern synth-pop, balancing huge melodies with clear, concise emotional beats. “Beautiful lies on a Friday night,” she sings on the pulsing standout Power. “Starting to wonder where we lost the magic.”

Goulding is a patchy singles artist but there are no shortage of could-be-hits on ‘Brightest Blue’. Along with Power (number 86 in the UK mid-lockdown) we have the Imagine Dragons meets Chvrches stomp of Love I’m Given and the skittering, propulsive Tides.

But then there’s the matter of the record’s tacked on Side B, dubbed ‘EG.0’. It comprises a run of collaborations with artists including Lauv, Diplo and Swae Lee, and Blackbear. It’s an eye-catching guestlist but little more. 

Hate Me, with the late Juice WRLD,  is another plus point, but while ‘EG.0’ is perhaps a canny idea from a playlist perspective its inclusion bulks the record out to a wearying 19 songs and almost 60 minutes (several earlier throwaway skits don’t help matters). It’s like smashing a load of ice into a well-mixed drink and expecting it to taste the same as it did seconds earlier.

It’s particularly galling because the opening stanza of ‘Brightest Blue’ ends with three songs that confidently express Goulding’s strengths. Bleach, Flux and the title track are relatable, melodically expressive quasi-ballads that she inhabits with rich vocal performances and just the right amount of over the top grandeur. Knowing when you’re finished is an art in itself.

Ellie Goulding Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed April 28 2021 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Sat May 01 2021 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Wed May 05 2021 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Thu May 06 2021 - LONDON Eventim Apollo
Sun May 09 2021 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Mon May 10 2021 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Wed May 12 2021 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre

Click here to compare & buy Ellie Goulding Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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