Pop singer Halsey (she/they) released their fourth studio album, “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power,” after a year-long hiatus. The singer stated on their Instagram that the album’s concept was based on the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth. Halsey welcomed their firstborn in July and shortly released teasers of a film that complements the album.
When the album is listened to in order of track listing the tracks progressively intensify, and you can’t help but keep listening. Halsey is known for their unique tone and rock-like vocals, even as a pop singer. The sound of the album is similar to “Nightmare,” an emo-heavy, metal-inspired track the singer released in 2019.
The first track, “The Tradition,” is dominated by piano and strings. Halsey sings about a woman who is bought to be used for male pleasure and deprived of happiness. This track is eerie but sets the tone for the rest of the album.
“[M]y body has belonged to the world in many different ways the past few years, and this image is my means of reclaiming my autonomy and establishing my pride and strength as a life force for my human being,” Halsey told Variety. “The Tradition” introduces the eerie and dark tone of the record. Similar to other tracks, “The Tradition” follows the theme of female empowerment and independence.
Listening to “Easier than Lying” was an experience. The rapid bass and upbeat percussion can catch you off guard. Halsey shows their versatility with “Easier than Lying.” This song is similarly reminiscent of “Nightmare” by straying away from soft vocals and simple acoustic instrumentation. This track relates to Halsey’s experience in the music industry as it makes or breaks an artist. They also allude to past toxic relationships.
“Girl is a Gun,” the fifth track, is about Halsey’s need for love, but they feel freer when they are not in a relationship. Halsey sees more problems than blessings in their relationships. The hour-long film stars Halsey as a queen who is targeted by an abusive king. The film brings the album to life, illustrating the physical and mental entanglement of sexuality and autonomy of pregnancy. The first track that appears in the film is “Bells in Santa Fe,” which shows the illusion of power differences. Throughout the film, Halsey’s character tries to regain control over fate. They face a battle of whether the future will be different with the newborn child. Tickets went on sale on Tuesday, Aug. 3rd for IMAX showings.
Overall, this album is different from what Halsey usually delivers. It is not rare for Halsey to stray away from her original sound. The “Manic” era was short and sweet. Halsey showed her true self through “Manic,” but as a new mother, Halsey shares a different perspective of growth and vulnerability.