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BADLANDS is the debut release from Halsey, and this better not be her only album because man oh man is it good. Her stage name is drawn from an anagram of her given name, Ashley—and if you consider the idea of changing something around so that you can experience it in a different way, this is exactly how BADLANDS delivers in terms of pop music.
It’s a big, bold, unapologetically pop album that doesn’t fit into the teeny bopper category. This is in part because of the lyrics, which indicate that Halsey is either a bloody good story teller, or her lyrics are powerfully drawn from real life experience. BADLANDS is supposedly structured around a fictional world, allowing her videos and songs to tell the stories of those places. This adds a nice gloss and theme to the album, but really the songs are so good in their own right that they transcend any need for a grander theme.
“Castle” is the opening track, and whilst it is a solid song and intro, it is pretty basic in comparison to the rest of the album. “Hold Me Down”, “Gasoline”, and “Hurricane” are all a tonne better and give a good showcase of Halsey’s talents. They all feature honest lyrics that are open to interpretation, and they all confront the debate as to whether the version of yourself that society cannot seem to accept is okay, great, or awesome.
“New Americana” is probably the stand out single on the album. It’s a sort of typical coming-of-age generation song, but minus the usual glamour and celebration. The song isn’t simple or straight-forward, and is purposefully cynical and dark. The pop overtones and catchy chorus will hook you, and the line “raised on Biggie and Nirvana” is an instant t-shirt.
“Drive”, “Roman Holiday”, and “Haunting” are all worth a listen as well. All have their own unique tone and each present a pop song that tells a story and is engaging to listen to for the entire duration. “Colours” also delivers on the storytelling front, and it contains the hands down best lyric of the album—“I was red, and you were blue. You touched me and suddenly I was a lilac sky, and you decided purple just wasn’t for you.”
I would guess that if you are a closet T-Swift fan who is too proud to admit it, but you love that pop genius, then Halsey would be for you. BADLANDS is a great pop album with its own flavour provided by alternative and grunge overtones.