Music Review: Ellie Goulding’s “Halcyon”

Release date: October 9, 2012

Label: Interscope Records

Purchase: Amazon | iTunes

Rating: 5/5

Ellie Goulding is like  a sweet breath of fresh air to music since her debut. The talented European has undeniably shaken the industry with her enchanting and unique voice, soothing and thought provoking songs, and of course that distinctive beauty. The bundle necessary to make a statement and consider it brought. I had high expectations for Goulding’s sophomore album and I was indeed impressed. Halcyon took me by surprise and completely shitted on my brain. I’m left in this state of dependency;  I need to hear this album over and over to feed my addiction. What can I say? Ellie is in fact a ‘Goulding’ girl and I’m expecting just results from the charts.

Just breathe…

Don’t Say A Word, an appropriate title for a haunting and inviting opener. That harmonizing is beyond hypnotic, as Ellie reels in listeners into her world of captivation. The drums compliment her sensual and breathy singing. Whenever the pace intensifies I’m forced to move my body uncontrollably as if in a trance. The song’s about staying clear of any troubles and just simply remaining in the silence of love, even if its vanishing or still hanging by a thread. At least, that’s my interpretation of it.

This track has the capability to set the room on fire, and I would be a little disappointed if it never blossomed into a single. But if you think this is great, then the next will be perfect.

I’ve been hearing several comparisons made between the sound of Florence + the Machine and Ellie Goulding but from my analysis both have different music. Maybe the ceremonish drums, ritualistic harmonies,  celestial melodies and similar indie appeal but otherwise everything is unrelated. With that said ‘God knows’ I’m absolutely in love with My Blood. There’s a pounding and belly-wrenching sound by the drums during the breakdown that just overpowers me. The chorus is catchy, the overall song is addictive, and the words are meaningful.


That’s the one word that kept replaying in my head whenever I listen to the singer’s latest single, Anything Could Happen. The song is almost like a reminder that one moment everything can seem perfect in the relationship and the next its all crumbling down. The music video carries that tragedy as well as portray something both spiritually and emotionally moving. My interpretation is most likely far less than the deeper message beneath the words.

Only You sounds delightfully acceptable. It’s nothing like I’ve heard before; considerably intoxicating on an experimental level. The chipmunk effect electrifies the track but doesn’t distract from Ellie’s flowy voice. Once again, the drumbeats ride smoothly along with the harmonies. Ellie sings about the power love has over her; building her up and tearing her down at will. Only her love can rip her heart to threads.

The title track fuses electropop along with dance elements to convey an ethereal sound similar to that of Lights. The song may not be as powerful as the hit single but it’s just as chilling. Halcyon is about reflecting on a time when you had total happiness and now trying to recapture that feeling in a time of pain. It has a beautiful purpose and strengthens its position as deserving to be the album title. But also suitable for mainstream pop lovers.


Figure 8 has a slower pace as oppose to the previous tracks but this song is just deadly on its own. I’d say it’s the most vigorous on the entire album, again depicting the ups and down of the relationship. What makes it so outstanding is the fierceness in her voice. In every note you can feel her emotions pouring out. But her passion doesn’t recede there, Joy takes everything she’s going through and finds a place where the songstress feels contented. Ellie has concluded with the fact that her happiness is not with him, she has to discover that on her own. The orchestral arrangement adds drama and depth while the she melts away in our hearts with her new found enlightenment. Biggest highlight: ballad-esque piano melody, Gothic strings and backing choir.

Hanging On lights up beneath my skin. It grabs a hold of my heart and elevates me to the clouds. My love for this one is undoubtedly indescribable, but it remains inches away from being my favorite because of Tinie Tempah’s appearance. I have nothing against the rapper, in fact I like his music. I just don’t see the value of his rap on the track. But as mentioned before, I do love the song and its electronized influences from dubstep, or a significant other. 

I’m unsure as to whether I should be creeped out or intrigued by Explosions but whatever the case and amongst the mixed emotions it gave me, one thing is for certain ‘I will never be the same‘ after listening to the song. I think those opera like harmonies in the beginning and throughout added to the pain of coping with lost. This is irresistible, otherworldly, breathtaking, depressing, heartbreaking, lonely, lovely, bittersweet. I’m doing my best to describe my reaction as well as Ellie’s, realizing she’ll never be the same after coming to terms with the truth that someone she once cared for is no longer around but tries hard to wish him all the best and hopes to meet him again in some other period in time.

There isn’t a song more tear-jerking than I Know You Care. The piano filled track redefines the word sad. The entire album is relationship based, intertwining with breaking up or missing a lost love, and this song is about knowing the relationship will end in spite of the fact that both still cares for each other.  

Atlantis returns to that dubstep influence. The song’s about missing your past love after things have ended. Its a good track but sounds a bit restrained compared to the rest. The feeling that resonated so much before has been tamed a bit on this one.

Dead in the Water concludes the album but if you’re curious enough to keep going then I getting the deluxe version is a great idea. The last track, though, on the regular version is a remarkable piano ballad signifying emptiness, another effect of her heartbreak. However sad and lonely she is, Ellie continues waiting for her love to find her. The song sparks and flutters effortlessly; its exceptionally written like the rest. The effectiveness lies heavily on her vocal skills and Ellie has no trouble in touching souls with her singing. I was absolutely blown away by her passion much less the sorrow in the words.

In closing, I’m impressed. My heart requires rehab after listening to this album. Halcyon is one of the best and most unique attempt of a sophomore album released this year. The songs are possessing, the singer is refreshing. Ellie Goulding deserves the recognition and needs much more to reward her for all this beautiful music. But then again, no amount of recognition on earth could fully compliment the unearthly sound embodied on Halcyon. This album is inarguably one of a kind.


Track listing:

01. Don’t Say A Word

02. My Blood

03. Anything Could Happen

04. Only You

05. Halcyon

06. Figure 8

07. Joy

08. Hanging On

09. Explosions

10. I Know You Care

11. Atlantis

12. Dead In The Water

credit: elliegoulding

3 thoughts on “Music Review: Ellie Goulding’s “Halcyon”

  1. I love her song, Lights. She has a really unique voice for real and I wish she’d get more notice statewise but then again, nevermind. U.S music industry has a tendency of corrupting musicians when their career takes off. *caughsilluminati*

Share your positive thoughts, not your animosity!!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.