With the start of a new decade comes the arrival of new music from popular artists. Halsey’s newest album “Manic” is a welcome addition to the new decade. Born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane on Sept. 29, 1994, Halsey has been making music since 2014 and released three albums since then. On “Manic,” Halsey opens up about her mental health. While the listening experience was enlightening, there was more that could have been explored.
The opening three tracks could be great songs, but they feel incomplete. On the track “Graveyard,” the second verse is about being trapped in a car with a drunk driver. With such an interesting concept, it’s puzzling why Halsey made it so short and decided to repeat a boring chorus. The instrumental is hollow and could easily blend in with any pop song on the radio.
Halsey quickly rebounds with the track “You Should Be Sad” in which she steers away from her pop roots and goes for a country vibe. On this song, Halsey vents her frustrations about a man she once dated. Featuring acoustic guitar, this is a laid-back but satisfying song with an aggressive undertone.
One of the most surprising parts of “Manic” is how lowkey the instrumentals are. Halsey’s music is usually upbeat and used in commercials. Songs like “SUGA’s Interlude” featuring SUGA from BTS is an example of this. The themes of regret and fame are not waved in front of your face; rather, they’re reflections of what Halsey and SUGA have been through in their careers as superstars.
Seeing Halsey be open with her fans is nothing new and has been a trademark of her brand since her first album, “Badlands.” What separates Halsey’s older material from her work on “Manic” however is how detailed the lyrics are. The best example of the brutal honesty is on the closing track “929.” Lyrics like “I’m pickin’ my hair out in clumps in the shower” and “lost the love of my life to an ivory powder” are a testament to Halsey’s strength as a songwriter. I also appreciate Halsey’s ability to write catchy hooks and belt out lines when conveying a dramatic moment in her life.
“Without Me” is the culmination of everything I like about Halsey and then some. The lyrics focus on her break up with rapper G-Eazy and how he cheated on her multiple times. The beat from Louis Bell starts off somber but quickly escalates into a powerful release of raw emotion. Halsey’s bellowing vocals on the chorus are mesmerizing and remind me why I love pop music.
“Manic” is a solid entry into Halsey’s small body of work. There are parts of the album that could have easily been more fleshed out or where the production could have been up-tempo, but for the most part the album sticks to its theme of self-reflection and personal growth.
With Halsey writing and producing most of the songs, “Manic” feels like Halsey wrote music for her diary entries and had artists like Alanis Morissette and Dominic Fike to help her with the process.
Whatever direction Halsey decides to take her career in the future, I am looking forward to it. I’m hoping she brings her talent of writing introspective and moody pop songs with her, because few artists of her generation have that ability.
Thumbnail courtesy of Billboard.com
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org