You should be sad
Forever … (is a long time)
Finally // beautiful stranger
Three years after her last album release, genre-hopping American singer-songwriter Halsey returns with her best work to date. Manic is an album that demands your attention and right from the opening track to the sledgehammer gut punch of a finale, Halsey pours her heart and soul into every single track to deliver one of the best albums of the year so far and a very impressive showcase of personal life stories in the process.
The album itself opens with “Ashley”, a track that shares the actual first name of this artist and a great way to personalize the themes that run throughout the album surrounding this artist’s tumultuous few years. There’s an unbridled rage and poignancy that runs through the latter stages of the album and the minimalist follow-up track “Clementine” perfectly opens the door for this to follow, as Kalsey repeatedly sings ‘I don’t need anyone’.
From here, two of the previously released tracks before this album dropped show up back to back, “Graveyard” and the more recent single “You Should Be Sad”. The latter in particular is a wonderful genre-hopper with influences of Indie Pop, Country and heavier guitar riffs combining to deliver a song that could easily light up the charts, given the heartfelt but incredibly catchy lyrics running through this one.
There’s a consistent journey through the album too and the aforementioned rage and sadness is actually restrained reasonably well for the first half of the album before that pours across to an emotionally charged second-half as the lyrics dance around the tempo of each track. “I HATE EVERYBODY” is a really powerful song and a clever one too, using the upbeat lyrics that sound like a bouncy pop record but with lyrics that tell a very different story. “Killing Boys” is a little more obvious and all of this crescendos into one of the best songs on the album “929”. This song in particular is an acoustic, self-assessment of Halsey’s life and an incredibly powerful track that commands your attention, pulling you in and forcing you to listen to every emotional word.
Albums with a consistent message and a more personal touch will always do better than a bland group of songs that sound the same. From the opening chord in the first track to the closing bite of vocals during the curtain call, Manic is a heartbreaking, emotional album that shines a spotlight on every difficult and troubled moment of this young woman’s life. It’s manic but beautiful and has a consistent journey of emotion throughout. Although there are a few tracks here that sound very pop-orientated, it’s the lyrics that help this one stand on the shoulders of other albums released this year.
Verdict - 8/10