ALBUM REVIEW: Halsey - Manic
I'm not sure if these LEGO pieces all came from the same box.
I’ve always loved Halsey’s music for her incredibly specific lyrics that give you a magnifying glass to look at life’s simplest things and then break it in your hand. And you’re the one that has to clean up the blood. With Manic, however, she hasn’t done that. In her 2014 debut Badlands, every single track felt like its own developed world, easily recognisable and beautifully executed. In Manic, her voice is drowned by what at times just sounds like noise.
The singer/songwriter here has flung her net wide, trying to catch as many fish as possible, but she hasn't pulled it off particularly well. I’ve loved genre-bending and slightly haphazard albums like Harry Styles’ self-titled 2017 debut, where tracks 'Kiwi' and 'From the Dining Table' sound like they belong to two entirely different albums, but still somehow felt cohesive and part of a totality. After Badlands’ achievements, like the now overplayed (but still brilliant) 'New Americana', the singer’s latest work rings a bit too erratically.
The album opens with 'Ashley'. The artist’s real name (Ashley Nicolette Frangipane) gives us a single that might not be strong enough on its own. Like the track that follows it, 'Clementine', though this is Halsey’s third album, Manic often gives the impression that it might be her first feeling happier as 'Ashley' instead. The singer has said before that she didn’t like the name Ashley Frangipane, but this album seems to be a love-story to all the different parts of herself coming together.
Halsey is admittedly successful in doing that. Tracks like 'Graveyard', 'I HATE EVERYBODY' and, obviously, 'Without Me', are ones you can slip into playlists and listen to while power-walking to work. What I’m personally wary of is the fact that, no matter their stylistic differences, the singles don’t seem to stand out on their own, apart from 'Without Me', which has done so for more than a year. Halsey could have achieved this with more of her tracks like she has done before.
Halsey’s given us a good enough album, that shares the message she wants it to. With lyrics like 'Cause I could never hold a perfect thing and not demolish it’ and ‘I need it digital 'cause, baby, when it's physical I end up alone’ how could it not? In bits and pieces like that I hear the Halsey that I listened to over and over to in Badlands.
Manic rightfully feels like an in-between period, a product of the artist working on herself and trying to heal from certain toxic behaviours and people in her life. I’m interested to see what can come from it and what she puts out in the future.
- 6.3 -
'Ashley', 'Graveyard', '3am'
Maria Orlando is a bookworm and writer that traded Italy's mild weather for London's constant drizzle. All to study literature. Oh well.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in London, England. Subscribe to our mailing list below to be alerted every time a post is published on the site.