‘Halcyon ’ (Polydor)
Aside from the singles, there was little to enjoy about Ellie Goulding’s debut album ‘Lights’, a beige collection of electro-folk that rarely sounded like it had blood pumping through its veins. On the very good ‘Halcyon’, however, Goulding ditches the coy and cloying in favour of strident melodies, massive sky-scraping choruses buffeted by gusts of sophisticated dance pop and bittersweet lyrics about how the end of a relationship can bring both sadness and hope. Opening with a strange chorus of chanting Ellies, it’s an album that often takes more risks while still keeping an eye on the Radio 1 playlist. Thus, new single ‘Anything Can Happen’ is built around massive synth farts and chopped up vocals, but also features her best chorus, while ‘Explosions’ interweaves a choir, harp and strings to make something that’s beautiful, as opposed to a poor Florence facsimile. Even the ballads – especially the sweet ‘I Know You Care’ – hit their mark, Goulding sounding genuinely pained as opposed to channeling a rom-com version of sadness that plagued her debut. There are missteps – her heavy-handed cover of Active Child’s ‘Hanging On’ is unnecessary and the wilfully epic ‘Atlantis’ soon starts to grate – but ‘Halcyon’ is a bold and confi dent step forward.