Album Review

Halsey - BADLANDS

Released August 28, 2015
Chad W. Lutz
​There's a new generation taking the reins, and one of its budding stars wants you to know that she likes it rough, isn’t going to quit, won't apologize, and doesn’t want to be your role model, and you’re going to have to deal with it whether you like it or not. She’s going to talk about her drug habits, how she likes to be held down during sex, and that if you press the wrong buttons around her you’re going to be blown to absolute smithereens, no remorse, no questions asked.
 
Against the backdrop of electric and bombastic synth rhythms, searing, infectious vocals dripping with sex and pop honesty, and lyrics pinpricking your heart into thousand-degree flames of passion mirroring young and resentful opposition, the twenty-year old from New Jersey known by her family and friends as Ashley Nicollette Frangipane, and to her fans as Halsey, absolutely rips on her debut album, BADLANDS.
 
Listening to the record, one gets the sense there’s a lot going on here. This isn’t just a pop album. Yes, this is Lorde, this is Lady Gaga, this is Taylor Swift, this is Kelly Clarkson, this is Haley Williams, and yet it isn’t. There are echoes of 90’s grunge rock and the pop rap of the 00’s swimming in each and every track. Energy, raw and pure, radiate, in the mixes. There are songs that drive. There are songs that brood. But each and every cut oozes something memorable, even if you aren’t a fan of pop music.
 
Unless you’re dead or hate fun, there’s not an ounce of me that believes you won’t find at least one track to jam to on this album. The third track on the 16-song album, “New Americana” is already my new favorite song. The speaker talks about cigarettes, liquor, self-made success, and survival against a marching snare beat that flies into the chorus and incites a cacophonic riot! “We are the new Americana,” she proclaims. “High on legal marijuana/raised on Biggie and Nirvana/we are the new Americana.” Amen.
 
Other notable tracks include the lurching, lover-tell-all storm called “Hurricane” which spells out in plain English why you don’t want to cross this artist. It’s brooding but provocative. It makes you almost wish you could find out what happens when the storm actually hits, but something tells me it’s nothing any of us would ever want to find out.
 
Another highly striking song, “Colors”, split into two separate tracks, talks about the emotional spectrum a person feels when they fall in love with someone. While the music is largely audio file rehash, it serves well as a back drop for the singer’s message about love and perhaps focusing a little too much on what’s going right and ignoring the glaring things that regularly go wrong in relationships. The only hang ups listeners might find with the album are the similarities between songs in terms of style and sound. Pop fans will find the formats familiar and catchy, but the average listener might only find a few tracks palatable. That's said with a grain of salt. You're going to enjoy this album.
 
This may be the first we’ve officially heard from the blue-haired, real-talk vixen from Washington, NJ, but it is definitely not the last. She represents what pop music has been striving for and working toward for decades. She’s a self-proclaimed “Tri-bi”: bipolar, biracial, and bisexual, the philosophical cocktail of the new era. We’re not exactly gay, we don’t like meat and potatoes, and our emotions are God. And someone is finally putting pen to paper about other than Frank Ocean. If you’re not hopping on the train that is BADLANDS, be prepared to have “New Americana” mow you the fuck over in the coming months.

91/100