[Ellis O’Connell | Contributing Writer]
In a time when country princess Taylor Swift and PBR&B cult figure The Weeknd have both made not-too-subtle bids for mainstream stardom, Ellie Goulding gives us her offering in new album Delirium. For Swift and The Weeknd, it’s worked; they’re arguably the biggest popstars on the planet right now. But Goulding, who burst onto the scene way back in 2009, has always struggled to become a bona fide popstar. She seemed to be continually hovering between blog starlet and household name; sashaying between indie-pop, electro-pop and EDM. While elements of these genres, and her folk roots, still note themselves throughout the record, the massive pop sound certainly resonates, and it’s fab. What’s apparent now is that the once-frowned upon term of ‘going pop’ could now been seen as the opposite – the best thing an artist can do.
2015 has seen a lot of good pop music, and the majority of it shares a common factor: Sweden. The go-to pop producer for nearly two decades, Max Martin, has consecrated us with hits such as Britney’s ‘…Baby One More Time’, most of Swift’s 1989, The Weeknd’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and Demi Lovato’s anthem ‘Cool for the Summer’. With Martin producing over half of Delirium, Goulding goes for a wide appeal. The result is a set of sixteen songs that at times cloud Goulding’s persona, but provide us with delectable synths, inescapable melodies and all-round bangers. Listening to the album, the title of the record becomes an apparent choice; the production really does make you feel a perpetual state of delirium, making for a polished, cohesive body of work.
Delirium immediately grabs you from the off with a lovely transition from the eery intro-track to first proper track, ‘Aftertaste’. The glorious harmony of spacious-but-juicy production ripples through ‘Something in the Way You Move’, a fan-favourite (and certainly mine). Then, a sister track to Adam Lambert’s ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Keep On Dancin” provides a highlight for the album, with Ryan Tedder’s hypnotic production enchanting your senses through a whistle-heavy chorus. Skip to a track like newest single ‘Army’ and elements of previous album Halcyon immediately flood the air; it turns out that this song is essentially ‘Love Me Like You Do 2.0’, which, if I’m honest, isn’t a bad thing – that inexorable triumph is also included on Delirium. Lead single ‘On My Mind’ slots in perfectly, something I was apprehensive about upon its release. The should-have-been-lead-single ‘Don’t Need Nobody’ however, is the album’s peak; it’s brash, poppy and unadulterated. But it’s songs like ‘Codes’ that really make me smile; a mammoth chorus with a perfect melody and oozing, synthesised guitar riffs. Amazing.
Goulding’s chase for a pop sound is very prominent, but going against other 2015 releases – such as Carly Rae Jepsen’s E•MO•TION – it proves a tough job for Delirium. And when comparing it to 1989, Swift’s persona immediately engulfs Goulding’s efforts. But that’s not to say that Delirium isn’t a good record – it’s fantastic. Goulding’s storytelling is second-to-none, making for a more emotional effort than her previous works, leaving behind the EDM-laden songs of yesteryear. That’s one thing that really stands out about Delirium, its naturalness. Not only does she manage to make Max Martin’s craft feel distinctive, Delirium feels like a progression for Goulding and acts as a taster for (hopefully) more pop-full things to come.
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