The Hopeless Fountain of Youth
Two years! It's been two years since last Halsey blessed her fans with a new album, but I was not one of them. Only having discovered her music just a few short months ago, I was happy as a cat in your lap that I didn't have to wait long for more. Released on June 2, Halsey's sophomore album proves that the second time around doesn't always have to be disappointing.
I'm not a big fan of American pop, as much of it (in my opinion) tends to be horribly generic, but Halsey made me a believer with Badlands, her first full-length album. There is an earnestness in her vocals that is still present on hopeless fountain kingdom, that makes it impossible for me to imagine her sitting down and taking her time to concoct her lyrics, as her songs possess a spontaneous, ingenuous quality that's difficult to feign. Honesty, and vulnerability are a big part of Halsey's music, as her legion of fans well know. These are all songs from the heart and soul, that you can hear and feel .
Personally, I prefer Badlands, if I had to choose between her two albums (and yes, I am aware of her Room 93 EP, but I'm excluding it here). I don't hate commercial music, but I've a savvy listener, and I can tell when an artist or label is trying too hard. I didn't care too much for the super anthem-esque "New Americana" on Halsey's previous album, for just that reason. On hopeless fountain kingdom, there are minor but glaring examples of this. The worst offender would have to be "Lie", which features rapper Quavo of Migos fame. These rapper/R&B artist collaborations go as far back as Spoonie Gee and the Sequence, or Melle Mel and Chaka Khan. In recent years, however, much of it sounds forced. We all know why record labels do it, but that's a whole other article of itself. What they should have done, is a remix with Quavo's part, instead of muddying what could have been a great song. But, you can't unring a bell, as they say.
Halsey's poetic "confessions", the tight musicianship and production values, all make hopeless fountain kingdom a worthy effort, despite its shortcomings. Pop music could use more substance, and I think Halsey has lots of it.