BY ALEXANDRA SANSONE
Musician and artist Ashley Frangipane, better known by her stage name Halsey, cultivated a bold image for herself when she entered the music industry years ago. And given this tough, almost punk persona presented on stage, in interviews and in her previous bodies of work, her newest album “Manic” seems a bit out of place.
Emotions of anger and rage that were previously manifested in more angsty, intense songs have dissipated, and in their place are far more raw and vulnerable pieces of art that dive deeper into the psyche of Halsey.
For those familiar with her work, the transition from Halsey’s previous album “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” to “Manic” is at first confusing and almost unsettling. This is not to say that she can’t and hasn’t managed to pull off the switch, but it is a bit jarring.
“Manic” is confusing, and its contents are true to its name in that respect. The sound of the album bounces around the skull, featuring everything from an emo anthem to a country bop. Initially, “Manic” seemed overhyped and underwhelming. But as with most of her work, the more you listen and process it, the more obsessed with it you become.
Halsey’s artistry is crammed into every second of the album. From the metaphor of a healing bruise to the smallest details in lyrics and production, the album as a whole—though it is at first glance incohesive—fits together beautifully.
But as with most of her work, the more you listen and process it, the more obsessed with it you become.
When initially listening to the album, there is so much happening that it is easy to get overwhelmed and want to give up. This is perhaps the biggest fault of the album, but listening through a few times is entirely worth it.
On the second listen, pay attention to the lyrics. Lyrically, the album is phenomenal. Her words are deep and meaningful without being convoluted. They paint a picture and tell a story—one of pain and diligence, healing and growth.
On the third listen, concentrate on what was chosen to be featured in the music. The production was extremely well-thought-out. It takes the listener on a rollercoaster ride. In songs like “3 am,” I am pumped up but in softer ballads like “more” I am subdued, but still building anticipation for the next track.
Want a list of my favorite songs? Look at the tracklist.
“Manic” is completely different from anything Halsey has put out. It isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and it takes a second to get to know her latest and greatest body of work. But it’s well worth listening to.
- Beautiful lyrics
- Top-notch production
- Almost too much going on at once
Photo courtesy of Halsey