Halsey - Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Things are much different for Halsey at the time of this new albums release compared to her last when her last record, Badlands, dropped. In 2015 Halsey was an outsider taking alt-pop to a new level. She was gritty and different but could still write an incredible hook. Now with top 10 hits under her belt both solo and with the Chainsmokers the buzz about this sophomore release was palpable. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom more or less follows Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as two star crossed lovers navigate their families hatred to try and be together. It is well worn territory and it seems like Halsey really only holds to that concept in spirit, the songs themselves don't actually work to tell the story, rather they just exist as songs on their own. Halsey has always been one for a deep narrative though and she does have some skill in weaving a tale within the context of alt-pop music, perhaps better than anyone else out there today. Her music is so very cinematic taking you on journey after journey. "Now or Never" has Halsey begging for love not tomorrow, but right now and is also one of the smoothest tracks on the record as it worms through it's 3:34 runtime. "Sorry" comes in the middle of the record, but the strongest ballad on the album feels more like a closer with Halsey's vocal dancing over a stripped down piano track.
Not everything works on this record however. "Lies" which features Migo's Quavo, falls really flat bringing the worst out from both performers. "Walls Could Talk" also feels far to overwrought to really be enjoyable. When the second round of orchestral music comes in, you just want to tell Halsey that we get it. "Don't Play" however with it's chopped up vocals sounds wildly different in the best way. "Strangers" is the electropop track of the record and feels heavily influenced by 80s, yet still manages to be super crisp. While Halsey is singing about incredibly personal things, they don't all that connected to her. That could be the inclusion of more producers on this record and the heavy label pressure to get this out. The album also tends to be dragged down by it's own heaviness at times. Halsey puts so much emotion into her songs and on this record doesn't give you a second to just catch your breath and enjoy, you have to actively participate in almost everyone one of these songs. There also seems to be a lack of an all out pop single which is likely going to hurt sales. Yet, for halsey this sophomore album shows she's got the chops even if this record didn't hit it out of the park. Halsey is a talented artist that we will be hearing from for a long time, but Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is to heavy to have any song of the summer potential.
7.2 out of 10