13 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Pardon the pun, but Ellie Goulding’s sophomore album is light-years ahead of 2011’s Lights—which now plays with an airy innocence compared with 2012’s Halcyon. “Don’t Say a Word” sets a darker tone with brooding beats and shadowy ambiance, as Goulding's lyrics reach out to grasp the last functioning piece of a dying relationship. But Goulding cleverly contrasts vulnerable emotions with a voice that sounds more assertive and strong than anything sung in Lights. There’s a shaking quaver to her timbre in the following “My Blood”, which shifts between a Kate Bush-esque fragility in the verses and an empowering chorus wrought with the soulful strength of a modern R&B anthem. “Anything Could Happen” is the real game-changer here. It’s complexly crafted, with pulsing beats in the refrain that were forged from sharply edited bursts of her own vocal samples. Within these self-contained rhythms is a melody that interweaves with the catchy hooks draped over the chorus like a net. Of the deluxe version’s five bonus tracks, both “Ritual” and “Without Your Love” play with bombastic presence.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Pardon the pun, but Ellie Goulding’s sophomore album is light-years ahead of 2011’s Lights—which now plays with an airy innocence compared with 2012’s Halcyon. “Don’t Say a Word” sets a darker tone with brooding beats and shadowy ambiance, as Goulding's lyrics reach out to grasp the last functioning piece of a dying relationship. But Goulding cleverly contrasts vulnerable emotions with a voice that sounds more assertive and strong than anything sung in Lights. There’s a shaking quaver to her timbre in the following “My Blood”, which shifts between a Kate Bush-esque fragility in the verses and an empowering chorus wrought with the soulful strength of a modern R&B anthem. “Anything Could Happen” is the real game-changer here. It’s complexly crafted, with pulsing beats in the refrain that were forged from sharply edited bursts of her own vocal samples. Within these self-contained rhythms is a melody that interweaves with the catchy hooks draped over the chorus like a net. Of the deluxe version’s five bonus tracks, both “Ritual” and “Without Your Love” play with bombastic presence.

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