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Halsey - If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power (Album Review)

Monday, 06 September 2021 Written by Jessica Howkins

Photo: Lucas Garrido

When the announcement was made that Halsey would be working with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the production of their fourth album, ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’, levels of anticipation rose to fresh heights. Would the alt-pop artist go to the rock side? Perhaps industrial vibes would creep in through every open door they could.

Thankfully, the album was worth the wait. It is fierce, bold and transfixing. It comes pre-loaded with a level of defiance, and is a statement fuelled by a strong emotional connection to the concept. Having been pregnant during the writing process, Halsey has framed discussions of love and sexuality with that experience, and recently giving birth has undoubtedly bolstered the untamed side of the artist.

The versatility that Halsey has, alongside the talents of the producing duo, make this album feel grand in a theatrical sense. There is heartbreak, passion, even horror; each feeling that is poured out helps the listener follow the journey that the artist has been on, helping us to connect beyond our own life experiences. 

From the artwork to the concept, ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is an example of creative freedom and expression. Halsey has embraced a level of independence and empowerment on this album to the extent that there is an accompanying level of intimidation.

Rich pop hooks are melded to creeping synths and basslines that grind with just a hint of crunching metal, and they don’t skirt the unsettling truths that come with life. There’s no masking the darker edges of love and power, nor our inability to completely ignore the ugly natures we often try to gloss over. 

‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is one of the most honest releases that’s come around in a long time. Vulnerable, raw, emotive, stubborn, sincere and fierce, this is the a defining moment in Halsey’s career. With an attitude to break boundaries like theirs, we could be seeing the emergence of one of the most ground-breaking artists of our generation if they continue in this direction. 

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