Self-deprivation, the harsh realities and making connections with different artists is what Halsey’s latest album consists of and it’s a bit odd how she managed to fit these themes into a single album. “Manic” is a fitting title for her new album because, while the tunes are chill and varying in style, the lyrics make Halsey seem a bit crazy, but nothing that the younger generations aren’t familiar with; in fact there’s a little bit in the mix for everyone.
From the calm tones of the opening song, “Ashley,” to “I HATE EVERYBODY,” the instrumental aspect of the song can be a chill beat to jam to on any occasion. Halsey has a unique voice and you can hear how she is showing her truest self on this album by her beautiful vocal range. By adding pieces of popular entertainment as audio recordings, there’s something more to be said about Halsey’s style.
She influences the tone of various songs by simply throwing listeners for a loop in hearing something with no beat, just the lyrics. She compelled me to think more about the strange audio I was hearing and why it was in a particular song. For example, there’s an audio track in “3am” that is a voicemail from singer John Mayer where he exclaimed that her album was at the top of the charts. Halsey said on Twitter that Mayer had faith in her album before she was able to have faith in herself. But, no matter how sweet that is, I really don’t like that she included it in her song and said her album was already a hit. And I don’t like the emotional rollercoaster that this album brings, it’s a bit much for someone who might be trying to listen in a casual scenario. Regardless of the intent behind the album, because of the heavy tones she decided to include, this album isn’t going to be a hit for everyone.
One thing I like is the diversity she included in the album, not only in terms of style but artists. There are three interludes, a bit much for an album in my opinion because typically interludes are instrumental breaks in the album, but each features at least one other artist. They each have unique styles which are not like Halsey’s and may introduce her audience to that particular artist, increasing sales and cross-promotions. I think by far the biggest name she made a song on the album with was in the song, “SUGA’s Interlude.” BTS, arguably the most popular K-Pop band, sang with her in a different language and with SUGA. Two artists featured with Halsey in one song made it confusing to tell who was who, but either way the song was interesting to hear and the idea of having more interludes semi-worked. It functioned for at least exposing the other artists who I may not have listened to before to me, so that was definitely a pro for this unique idea.
“killing boys” was weird and almost off-putting to me. She went from a great interlude with this abstract artist named Dominic Fike, to a smooth transition, to an audio track that says “‘I’m killing boys, boys are just placeholders, they come and they go.” I almost found that offensive considering it reminded me of the negativity that can be associated with feminists.
Overall, the album isn’t bad, just different. The various styles and the background instrumentals are something unique for anyone to catch on the radio and actually enjoy, but the reality of this album is it seems too relatable for the younger generation. It stirs feelings of release for her, and maybe some of her audience, but it can also suck people back into the dark places that they were stuck in. Music moves mountains and feelings and Halsey seems to be playing on the toxic culture that is romance after a breakup. This album was made in her time of heartbreak so it’s great to see she’s recovering or already better, but maybe that’s why she’s calling this album “Manic” because it’s her story of suffering and recovery.
I liked it, but I was off put by some of its themes. However, I applaud Halsey for trying new things. It’s full of weird concepts musically, but it’s a good way to get to know Halsey as an artist.