Halsey: ‘Badlands’ Album Review

iamhalsey.com
iamhalsey.com

For an artist whose debut album Badlands dropped last August, Halsey has already built herself a feverishly dedicated fanbase. The 21-year-old, born Ashley Frangipane, has risen to impressive heights under the moniker ‘Halsey:’ an alias which is both an anagram of her birth name and a sentimental nod to a street in Brooklyn. Named MTV’s ‘Artist To Watch,’ Halsey’s ethereal sound has already hypnotized an entire generation.

Hearing the album for the first time, it isn’t difficult to understand how Halsey’s sound has captivated thousands. Badlands is a mesh of gritty, raw, calculated lyrics and a synth-heavy production reminiscent of Chvrches and Lights. The album opens with slow-burner “Castle,” a track screaming its discontent: “Sick of all these people talking, sick of all this noise / Tired of all these cameras flashing, sick of being poised.” But “Castle” is just one example of Halsey’s brutally honest narrative, with similar lyrical tones resonating throughout the entire album.

“New Americana,” for example, is an anthem for a new generation. Lyrics like “Survival of the richest, the city’s ours until the fall” take on a whole new meaning when paired with the dystopian “Divergent”-inspired video; the track is a bitter comment on society. “New Americana” is simply destined for radio play, with an incredibly addictive chorus and vocal embellishments evocative of Marina & the Diamonds.

There are parts of Badlands, however, that aren’t quite as commercial. “Gasoline,” “Control,” and “Hold Me Down” demonstrate the darker side of Ashley Frangipane’s alter ego; they radiate a much more extreme intensity. The urgency of “Gasoline” in particular enhances the calculated anxiety in Halsey’s lyrics, bringing a new edge to an already complex album: “You can’t wake up, this is not a dream / You’re part of a machine, you are not a human being.”

Must Read

4 New Books About Music Perfect for Winter Snowstorms

It’s the middle of winter, and there’s not much going on. Television will be preempted by the Olympics. Opportunities to get outside are scarce....

Ingrid Michaelson: ‘Time Machine’ Music Video Review

Ingrid Michaelson is involved in some of the most creative music videos I’ve ever seen. She loves to turn things on their head just...

The 10 Best Fictional Bands: Jem, St. Pepper, The Folksmen and More

The Wonders Tom Hanks was fresh off an unprecedented string of hit movies as a leading man when he decided to try his hand...

Related Articles

4 New Books About Music Perfect for Winter Snowstorms

It’s the middle of winter, and there’s not much going on. Television will be preempted by the Olympics. Opportunities to get outside are scarce....

Ingrid Michaelson: ‘Time Machine’ Music Video Review

Ingrid Michaelson is involved in some of the most creative music videos I’ve ever seen. She loves to turn things on their head just...

The 10 Best Fictional Bands: Jem, St. Pepper, The Folksmen and More

The Wonders Tom Hanks was fresh off an unprecedented string of hit movies as a leading man when he decided to try his hand...

The Surprising Stories Behind America’s Favorite Patriotic Songs

Born in the U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen’s "Born in the U.S.A." has always featured at political rallies for both Republicans and Democrats. But the true meaning...