The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Album Review: From “Badlands” to the “Graveyard”

Album Review: From “Badlands” to the “Graveyard” - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Halsey attends the Red Carpet at the 2018 Billboards Music Awards at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. May 20, 2018. Photo provided by Shutterstock.

Manic – showing wild, apparently deranged, excitement and energy.

In a world full of mediocre pop songs, overly-produced autotune anthems and subpar lyrics, it is easy to get lost in the motion of listening to unfulfilling yet catchy radio tunes. With the likes of pop-princesses Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez at the top of the genre, Halsey kicks the pedestal out from under them.

“I’m headed straight for the castle. They want to make me their queen,” Halsey sings in “Castle,” the opening track of her 2015 debut album “Badlands.” Now five years later, Halsey is considered a queen by many of her fans.

Never one to shy away, Halsey has always been very open about her life and struggles via her music, interviews and social media platforms. However, her previous two albums kept distance between the artist, Halsey, and the person, Ashley Frangipane. “Badlands,” a vision of a dark dystopian world, and the tragic Shakespearean romance of “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” do not compare with her third album “Manic,” which reveals more of Frangipane herself.

“Took my heart and sold it out to a vision that I wrote myself,” the pixie dream-girl opening track, “Ashley,” rings out, embodying the statement “an album made by Ashley for Halsey” that was released as part of the trailer for the album. 

The name Halsey is an anagram of her name and Halsey Street in Brooklyn, New York, where she began her career as a musician, bearing the true heart behind the artist. In her new release, listeners get to meet the girl behind Halsey.

“Manic” pulls away the delicate pieces of fabric that Halsey has protected herself with during her last album, showcasing the raw, naked emotion of a girl living in mania.

During an interview last year with Rolling Stone, she spoke about her mental illness and struggle with bipolar disorder. She said her latest release is “the first album I’ve ever written manic.” The album title refers to the mania experienced with being bipolar.

The title suits the album well by throwing you into a whirlwind of emotions, flipping you into every direction like a piece of debris caught in a tornado. Each track shoves you around a manic episode until you’re knocked down and cannot get back up, all the emotions of the tracks laying on you like a ton of bricks.

Not only are the lyrics and stories within the songs manic, so are the genre in which each are placed. The album shifts from hip-hop, rock, country, Latin-pop and a little mix of everything. Halsey told Rolling Stone that “it’s so manic.”

With mania, you experience a widespread amount of emotions being thrown at you and your brain constantly in overdrive. This sensation is in full effect throughout the 16 tracks. The album begins with pixie-dreamed, gut-wrenching “Ashley” moving to the beautiful, heartbreaking, country, guitar driven “You should be sad” to the mellow, twinkling pop anthem “I HATE EVERYBODY” and the soul-crushing, lightly plucked strings “929.” From start to finish, each track creates a dazzling, tragic look into the mind of mania forcing you to dance around your living room, sing at the top of your lungs, cry your eyes out, having your heart ripped out of your chest and being put back together again.

The album features three unique guest interludes from rapper Dominic Fike, BTS rapper Suga and the grunge queen herself, Alanis Morissette, adding a compelling element to the already prodigious record. All three flawlessly transition into the next track. Each interlude breaks the album into its own chapters like in a book, dividing up the tracks into their own sections of heartbreak, pain and hope. Each offers a pause from Halsey’s emotional tracks to give you a breath of fresh air before dragging you back down. “Manic” is very much a love letter to Halsey’s mental illness and life. She documents her life, love, pain, vulnerability and hope for all to experience throughout each track. By stripping away the curtains, Frangipane is able to overcome Halsey, revealing her true identity to the world. “Manic” is the album “made by Ashley for Halsey.” It is a great reintroduction to the artist and her best effort yet.

“Soft and slow, watch the minutes go. Count out loud, so we know you don’t keep ’em for yourself,” she closes out the record. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ashley Frangipane. We hope that you don’t keep your minutes to yourself any longer.

Album Details:

Label: Virgin/EMI

Release Date: January 17, 2020

Writer’s Top Five:

  1. 3am
  2. killing boys
  3. 929
  4. You should be sad


About the Author

Brittany Pichler
Brittany Pichler
Assistant Editor
Brittany Pichler is a senior communication major with a minor in sociology at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Brittany has an extensive background in marketing, having worked for a local San Antonio agency previously. She has since moved her expertise to writing, her biggest passion. After graduation in spring 2020, she looks forward to pursuing her master’s in creative writing and film at Sarah Lawrence or Columbia University in New York. Brittany aspires to become an author and screenwriter in the future. In her spare time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and binge watching shows on Netflix.

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