For Fans Of
When Halsey announced her new album ‘hopeless fountain kingdom‘, there was a fear among fans underpinning the hype that her recent success would taint this record’s new sound. The Romeo & Juliet inspired concept album proves that there was actually no foundation in ever having that fear. In mentioning that ‘hopeless fountain kingdom‘ is a concept record, it’s important to note that even though there is a story behind it, these songs are solid in their own right. Admittedly, the narrative is more evident when explained in Twitter snippets and in her music videos (like ‘Now Or Never‘) than throughout the full-length. Yet the nifty thing about that is that the overall experience of ‘hopeless fountain kingdom‘ for fans doesn’t stop at this LP, even though it’s a goddamn great start!
Now, it is true that ‘hopeless fountain kingdom‘ has a far poppier construction than Halsey’s debut ‘Badlands‘, despite Halsey defending it’s “alternative” grounding. The mainstream pop element here is evident on tracks like ‘Eyes Closed‘, a collaboration between Halsey and the Starboy himself, The Weeknd. Like record counterpart ‘Strangers‘, when stripped, it’s a completely different track, and it transforms from having a catchy chorus to being a heart-wrenching outpouring. Unlike those songs, ‘Lie‘, featuring hip-hop artist Quavo, is not generic at all. His addition provides an interesting dynamic, though the song would be just as good without him, as Halsey exposes her rap influence and combines it with an extravagantly produced chorus centred on a tragic pronouncement: “if you don’t love me no more then lie”.
In fact, there’s a lot of sad truths on this album, sometimes revealed graphically and other times in less explicit fashion. For reference, see the ‘Badlands‘-esque ‘Angel On Fire‘ and piano ballad ‘Sorry‘. Having said that, there is also empowerment. On ‘Heaven In Hiding‘ and ‘Don’t Play‘, Halsey valiantly holds her own, offering up a confrontation in which she is no longer a victim, not to anyone. Her influences shine through on ‘Don’t Play‘ as she experiments with R&B, referencing lean and comparing white lines to parmesan cheese, but it still works. Even better than her “Drake” moment is hearing the Britney Spears informed ‘Walls Could Talk‘. Despite the noticeable touches of her heroes here, these songs still remain 100% Halsey; an authenticity that’s hard to find in pop but which she embeds in her tunes no matter what.
On final track ‘Hopeless‘, Halsey directs this statement towards the one who made her heartbreak: “You and all your friends all hate me/thinking that you’re better when I’m not around/hear me on the radio and turn it down”. Maybe the people in her past did let her go, but the fact that she’s sharing her sentiments so honestly and openly is why so many people will be turning Halsey’s ‘hopeless fountain kingdom‘ right up!
Halsey always has a plan, and even if you can’t quite make out what she’s doing based on one or two pieces when you finally understand her vision it’s likely you’ll get on board. ‘hopeless fountain kingdom’ isn’t like Halsey’s debut LP ‘Badlands’ because Badlands isn’t who Halsey is anymore, and it’s ludicrous to expect her to keep being the girl from that place when she’s living in an entirely different world.
1. The Prologue
2. 100 Letters
3. Eyes Closed
4. Heaven In Hiding
6. Now or Never
8. Good Mourning
9. Lie (feat. Quavo)
10. Walls Could Talk
11. Bad At Love
12. Don’t Play
13. Strangers (feat. Lauren Jauregui)
14. Angel On Fire
15. Devil In Me
16. Hopeless (feat. Cashmere Cat)
‘hopeless fountain kingdom’ is out now via EMI.