253: HALSEY

Good music is good music. And sometimes something hits you that you just were not expecting. When news broke that NIN’s Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were producing the new album from Halsey (who I’d unfairly dismissed as just another pop star), I didn’t give it much thought. People seemed enthusiastic, but why would I care?

But release day came and, well, Trent Reznor has soundtracked my musical interests for as long as I can remember. So, benefit of the doubt, right?

And the verdict? This is the coolest “pop” record I’ve ever fucking heard. That Reznor vibe is certainly present, with songs often taking on a dark, ethereal feel. But ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is so much more.

From beautiful piano ballads, to gentle acoustic songs, to bouncing pop punk tracks, and industrial rock bangers – this album wears many hats, and they all work insanely well.

Halsey’s voice is versatile, beautiful, and manages to weave beautiful lyrics through all these incredible tracks.

2021 has been an unpredictable year, but perhaps the most unexpected occurrence for me has been one of my favourite albums of the year being a pop record (but we are using the label ‘pop’ in the loosest sense). But here we are.

With ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’, Halsey firmly establishes herself as one of the most creatively fascinating pop singers on the planet. By embracing a multiple styles into a single, coherent artistic vision, and working with somewhat left-of-field artists in Reznor and Ross, she has created a truly exciting album, with genuine broad appeal. And make no mistake, this is not ‘broad appeal’ in a lowest common denominator/appeal to the masses sense. This is a genre blurring, irrefutably appealing work of musical genius.