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My late review of Ellie Goulding's Halcyon Days

More like "ridiculously late" or "inexcusably late."

Last August, Ellie Goulding's second album, Halcyon, was re-released as Halcyon Days. As if the original album didn't already have, like, a thousand different versions, right? It just so happens that Ellie is no stranger to reissues—her 2010 debut album, Lights, was repackaged as Bright Lights, which presented us with some of Ellie's best songs yet, namely "Human," "Home," and "Animal".

Much like Bright Lights, Halcyon Days includes ten brand-new tracks, and given my undying love for Ms. Goulding, I just had to share my thoughts on them. Even if it took me a million years.

1) "Burn"
Many fans will agree with me when I say that "Burn"—which was originally intended for Leona Lewis—sounds rather generic compared to Ellie's previous releases, especially amidst today's oversaturated EDM fad. Well, this uplifting summer jam is pretty catchy nevertheless, with its rave-y synthesizers, anthemic chorus, and hands-in-the-air vibe. Plus, "Burn" became Ellie's first and much-deserved No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart! 7/10

2) "Goodness Gracious"
Beneath the bubbly
, sun-kissed synth motif, "Goodness Gracious" contains somewhat somber lyrics about what appears to be a toxic, on-and-off relationship where Ellie is helplessly in love with the guy and is unable to let him go, even though he's no good for her. Sounds a bit like M83 meets Passion Pit. Oh, and it was co-written by Nate Ruess, the frontman of fun. (yuck). 8/10

3) "You My Everything"
THIS IS SO FUCKING GOOD. I love how it pairs ambient sounds with twinkling synth stabs, which gradually evolve into a massive wall of infectious, turbo-charged beats during the chorus, resulting in something I really wish I could inject directly into my blood. Lyrically, "You My Everything" continues the trend of masking
a gloomy subject matter with upbeat melodies, as Ellie discusses a relationship that left her confused and heartbroken. In the end, though, she seems to pull through: "But it isn't the shit in my head / Pulling me under this time." You go, gurl. 10/10

This is me rockin' to this song. You're welcome.

4) "Hearts Without Chains"
A beautiful, wistful tale of a troubled long-distance relationship, built on melancholic piano hooks and haunting electronics. Ellie's plaintive vocal delivery shines through. 8/10

5) "Stay Awake" (Ellie Goulding & Madeon)
Yes, I raved about "Stay Awake" in my assessment of the original album last year, but seriously, it's just too epic to be overlooked. Hopefully this flawless slice of pure synthpop gold gets the recognition it deserves, now that it's no longer merely a "Tesco exclusive bonus track." This is the perfect song for those sleepless nights where you just want to party nonstop. 10/10

6) "Under Control"
Definitely one of the album's standouts. I cannot begin to explain how much I love this. Ellie's ethereal vocals exude confidence over bleepy synths, icy electronic textures, chunky beats, and an echoing bass, as she realizes she "got it under control" after her lover left her and his love "was never a missing piece." Does anyone else hear traces of the trap-infused dream pop of Canadian duo Purity Ring? 10/10

7) "Flashlight" (Ellie Goulding & DJ Fresh)
At first this drum 'n' bass and dubstep hybrid sounded odd to me, but after a few listens it became the kind of sneaky earworm you can't get enough of. B
acked by a booming bassline, the menacing, slightly psychotic "Flashlight" (not to be confused with "fleshlight") finds Ellie swearing vengeance on a guy who broke her heart. I'm not usually a fan of dubstep, but I do love Ellie's ventures into the genre. The only downside is that it sounds a bit too much like another DJ Fresh song, "Hot Right Now," which features Ellie's pal Rita Ora. 9/10

8) "How Long Will I Love You"
I love you, Ellie, I really do, but your cover of The Waterboys' "How Long Will I Love You?" is boring, faceless, and could as well have been recorded by any artist. I was going to say it sounds right out of some sappy romantic comedy, then I learned it actually appears on the soundtrack for the British time-travel rom-com About Time, which stars Regina George Rachel McAdams. Yawn. 4/10

9) "Tessellate"
On this minimal, atmospheric rendition of Alt-J's original, Ellie's airy vocals are gracefully placed over a series of soft finger-snap sounds, silky synths, and a sexy sax solo. The result is a late-night slow jam that oozes effortless sensuality, which is complemented by its noirish music video. 9/10

10) "Midas Touch" (Ellie Goulding × Burns)
Damn, three covers in a row? Well, this one is downright eargasmic and sounds quite different from everything Ellie has done. Ellie and Burns' moody, hypnotic take on Midnight Star's 1986 electro-funk hit "Midas Touch" infuses lush synth washes, ghostly vocal effects, and layered R&B beats. "Baby, let me touch your body and your soul," Ellie croons seductively. Indeed, she has the Midas touch. 9/10

Final rating: 8.4/10



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