Ellie Goulding's sophomore album Halcyon, is a dramatic explosion of pop-synths dancing around her tender yet strong soprano. It is the perfect follow-up to the English singer's debut, Lights, which had listeners of all ages trying to reach her desirable high notes all summer long. The tunes on Halcyon differ, however, to the previous anthem in a darker and more sinister way, which feels as though Goulding is giving tours through the labyrinth of chambers where she keeps her pumping heart. A heart that, of course, beats like a synthesizer, while she wails and whispers over its rhythm.
The album starts off in a small and peaceful place with light humming in the track "Don't Say A Word," which soon leads into the great reverberating echoes that pulse throughout the entire album. "My Blood" closes with this same comfortable humming after a melodious choir-effect as Goulding croons about God within the chorus, "And God knows, I'm not dying but I breathe now."
Despite the shining effect that bounces off of each track, Goulding's simple, pop lyrics are often very dark, filled with tenebrous and sullen feelings of hopelessness. The mesmerizing track "Only You" is filled with these somber lyrics, as she repeats the line: "Only you can see the emptiness I feel," throughout this dizzying track. These lyrics of misplaced love continue throughout Halcyon, with nearly every song.
Though Goulding may be considered a more grown-up Cascada, she proves herself with this album. There is a lot more to this emerging pop queen, and it doesn't seem like she'll be backing down anytime soon. "Anything Could Happen" is already her most popular track off Halcyon, as its catchy beats and synth-feel command movement from its listeners.
However, above all, Goulding's voice radiates in each track, becoming the focal point. Passion Pit-styled electronics easily weave in and out of her sweet-sounding echoes, supporting her, but Goulding can hold her own without them. The album's slower tracks, such as "Explosions," "JOY," and "I Know You Care," beg for future acoustic versions with Goulding's melodic voice swirling between guitars and violins as opposed to electronics and pulses.
Overall, Halcyon never backs down. There is no weak point throughout this album filled with desperately desolate lyrics. Listeners are brought swimming through the shimmering and strong cry of: "Where did you go?" in "Atlantis." "Figure 8" leaves with the promise that "Lovers hold onto everything" as displayed in the form of a simple pop ballad. Goulding's fierce voice quivers at just the right moments, rebounding down the halls. She is relentless in each track, and hopeless in each lyric. Halcyon does not leave anything to be desired, as Goulding prepares to perch upon her throne amongst other indie-pop goddesses, such as Lana Del Rey and Florence Welch for the long haul.