Music Review: Halsey's 'Badlands' makes for chilling, atmospheric Pop

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Halsey dropped her full length debut album ‘Badlands’ after months of anticipation, and to no one’s surprise at all, it’s being talked about at length and generating a lot of buzz. The album starts off with ‘Castle’, a dark and edgy bass-heavy track, with a haunting choir-backed pre-chorus. The song gives strong glimpses of the settings of the fictional dystopian land the singer has attempted to portray in ‘Badlands’– a central power structure, called ‘Castle’, which is being infiltrated by a young woman who’s been told to “keep her pretty mouth shut” despite making her their Queen. The track lands you bang in the middle of a storyline that you cannot make sense of, yet. The first half of the album builds on the momentum of ‘Castle’. ‘New Americana’, the viral second single of ‘Badlands’ is an attempt at the grandiose song-of-the-generation, with the chorus “We are the New Americana/ High on legal marijuana/ Raised on Biggie and Nirvana”. While the song is well-liked and is receiving a lot of airplay, it’s not a personal favourite because the chorus feels like it’s trying too hard. The songs that make the album for me are ‘Drive’, ‘Roman Holiday’ and ‘Colors’, which are consecutive tracks and the strength of the album. ‘Roman Holiday’, especially, was an instant favourite. Halsey sings with the optimism of someone resigned to their fate of a dysfunctional and addictive relationship. ‘Colors’ is another high-point of ‘Badlands’, painting a glorious picture of a broken man through imagery. It also features some of Halsey’s strongest lyrical work yet. The second half is where my problem with the record lies. Our musical appetite has been satiated, and you feel stifled by the atmosphere and thus, want to stop the music. While ‘Haunting’, ‘Control’ and ‘Young God’ work as stand-alone tracks, when heard in continuity, it’s hard not to feel like the show’s gone on for too long. ‘Ghost’, the last song on ‘Badlands’ and Halsey’s breakout single, comes as a breath of fresh air to end the album on a high. While not the “Pop Artist of the Year” Halsey’s music has interesting things to say- both in terms of music and production. She doesn’t exactly succeed in delivering the concept of ‘Badlands’, but at the end of it, you’re left stuck inside songs and with glimpses of melancholic landscapes and dark skylines littered with neon lights. More than anything else, ‘Badlands’ is a promise of greater things to come from the 20 year old songstress. Featured Image Credits: Official Album Cover of “Badlands” Shubham Kaushik [email protected]]]>

Shubham swears by three Fs in life: Fall Out Boy, Feminism and Food, and hopes to combine them into an amazing book someday. Staunchly against heteronormativity and a believer in the power of hugs, she considers herself a pop-culture 'activist' and a crusader against the stigma attached to fanfiction. A student of Economics at Miranda House, she likes indulging in discussions about the fragility of money and the absurdity of life. Find her reblogging memes on Tumblr or drop her a word at [email protected] if you want to discuss bands, books or have a nice pun to share.

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