Release Date: Jan 17, 2020
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Pop, Vocal, Pop/Rock, Left-Field Pop
Halsey's breakout appearance on Chainsmokers' Closer, which splashed all over international charts in 2016, was a mixed blessing. Yes, it showed off her sleek delivery and and a charming everygirl image, but Halsey is a little more than that as an artist. Manic is an opportunity to demonstrate her range, borrowing sounds from baroque pop, rock, trap and moombahton and tying them together impressively.
Halsey, like many pop stars, has a specifically crafted persona. Her persona has evolved with each of her concept albums, from the blue-haired dystopian tumblr princess that debuted with Badlands in 2015, to the blonde pixie cut bisexual Romeo/Juliet found on 2017's Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Through her high-profile relationship with equally internet-famous rapper G-Eazy, she played into the leather, slicked-back rock star girlfriend look. It came crashing down in the public eye, and she made the shocking decision to debut her newest persona ….
As she was in the throes of completing her third studio album in 2019, Halsey told Rolling Stone the record would contain "hip-hop, rock, country, f***ing everything because it's so manic. It's soooooo manic." It was so manic, Halsey decided Manic was the right title for this high-profile album, the first she's released since 2017's Hopeless Fountain Kingdom helped turn her into a regular presence at the top of the charts. As it turns out, Manic is indeed an appropriate name for an album so filled with twists and turns it feels like a double-LP crammed into the course of a 47-minute record.
The Lowdown: Halsey, also known as Ashley Frangipane, allows listeners into her colorful and complicated mind on her third studio album, Manic — an incredible sonic journey that touches on nearly every emotion possible. Throughout the 16-track album, Halsey shows off the deepest and most intense parts of her mind, through haunting melodies and incredibly sharp lyrics. (Buy: Tickets to Upcoming Halsey Shows) The Good: The album starts out with "Ashley", a powerful synth ballad introducing the world to an internally conflicted human with a wide range of emotions.
I f Billie Eilish is the US pop star already defining the 2020s with her low-key rasp, then 25-year-old Halsey feels like the Pink to her Robyn. Both have grammar-averse tracklistings and are celebrated for their "hyper-specific" lyrics, whatever that means, ticking off subjects including depression, drugs and body image. Halsey's amorphous sound, however, while hoovering up clickety R&B, alt-rock, country and Lana Del Rey's oeuvre, also reaches the blare-your-lungs-out heights of emo bands such as My Chemical Romance.
F rom the depressed self-medication documented in the emo-rap scene to the soul-baring by the likes of Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez, we're living in an age of radical transparency in pop - and no one is more open than Ashley Frangipane, AKA 25-year-old singer Halsey. Her third album features Without Me, which reached No 1 in the US and spent an entire year in the charts, partly thanks to its catchiness and voguish opiated trap production, partly thanks to the bracing specificity of its lyrics, which castigated her famous rapper ex G-Eazy. It's that specificity that powers Manic, too.
Halsey aka Ashley Frangipane's third album 'Manic' is a transparent, soul-baring record that flits effortlessly between wide-ranging genres while keeping the core extremely sharp and personally. Opener 'Ashley' - which eludes to her real first name - is a spooky synth-influenced track exploring the shackles and pressures of fame before tapering off with whispered, familiar dialogue: "I'm just a fucked-up girl looking for her own peace of mind. Don't assign me yours," taken from the mind-bending film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; a move that manages to instantly pique interest.