After a few days of sinking in the album, I asked myself many times: does Ellie Goulding sell me as a great artist? Or does she stick out like a sore thumb? While the answers could be both, it’s not that hard to see why some people could end up on either sides of the spectrum. And after taking my sweet time with her latest release, Delirium, I’ve been struggling to find her place in music. Maybe I have, or maybe I haven’t after all.
Ellie Goulding hasn’t really popped into my mind since a few tracks over the past few years other than an amazing break into the Billboard Hot 100 with Lights, which I thought was a great track. In 2012, she released Halcyon, the follow-up to Lights, but some songs were either too busy being sharpened and others being left in the shed. Still, it’s an enjoyable record for what it is, but my opinion hasn’t twisted all that much.
Roll around 2015 and we get Delirium, produced by Max Martin and Greg Kurstin just to name a few, both of whom made songwriting credits to most of the tracks. In tandem, Goulding did have some part to do with all of her songs bar the hugely popular track that is Love Me Like You Do, from the motion picture Fifty Shades of Grey. While I’ve been sorting out my thoughts for the album, why not talk a little bit about Ellie Goulding as a whole?
While I feel that Eillie’s career had been going as much as people had expected, I feel that most fans don't really have much to complain when it came to the music deplored. Exploring most of the same concepts as before, I found it hard to connect with most of her songs considering the EDM elements that have a frail build up leading into nothing much. While her emotional side has garnered some better reception, such as her cover of Take Me To Church, it felt like she was maybe better suited to alternative pop with a dash of EDM, but I guess I digress. What about the aptly titled Delirium?
For the most part it lacks any sort of inventiveness and fruitful punch to push forward with her direction of pop and EDM. At the same time, I wouldn't say the album is terrible considering some songs do have timing and grandeur to them that evokes pop of old. And that's the main problem: it's not good enough to set itself apart from the better pop EDM bridges but doesn't pale in comparison on a whole. It delivers nothing yet really doesn't feel underwhelming nor satisfying. It's mediocre for the most part.
Now most fans who do love the singles of previous tracks like Love Me Like You Do, Figure 8 and so on may disagree with my view, but in my opinion I felt that the album lacked a great track to build around. The former track mentioned brings nothing much to the table other than memorable lines and catchy-repetitive lyrics, while the track used to spearhead the album (On My Mind) is an enjoyable belter at best.
Take into consideration that this album has 16 tracks. 16! Well, technically 15. Still, that's too many, especially when most of the material that is produced on the album seem to either be filler or lazy, making the road to Scream It Out a chore when songs like Codes, Around U and Something In the Way You Move (almost word for word replacement for Love Me Like You Do) sound so generic and painful to listen to.
There's not to say that 15 tracks are a bad thing, when you pace it right. Most of these tracks are either oppressive and vibrant, making the latter songs all the more generic and repetitive. Out of pretty much 16 tracks, almost 4 could've been removed and 2 others might be in contention to even make it on to the album.
The album also does seem to suspend itself in trying to spend time building the chords or the production and rather throws you into chorus after chorus, lurching out feeling over mixed. That's not to say most of these tracks have a frenetic, epic finish to take us to the next song, which it not only lacks, but tries and fails (Aftertaste was just too much to handle). While in the most straightforward tracks like Don't Need Nobody, Holding On For Life and On My Mind do have guitar chords bursting into an epiphany of expressions does make up for what is missing.
I found myself not having a great distaste for the album and some of the content in the songs such as Codes, which did feel a little awkward in the delivery, feels like Ellie Goulding tracks through and through. For fans, that may be a statement they want to hear regardless of the music production and the vocal delivery, but none of the tracks particularly standout nor demand attention for a second listen.
Which brings me to my question to this review: is it a good album or a bad one? To be fair and honest, it's not that disgruntling nor messy and the vocal delivery is alright at best, but because most of these tracks are run of the mill, generic and oftentimes painful to listen to. It still manages to hold up thanks to some songs simply being either having impeccable timing or sets itself apart to be significant and telling rather than the same old, same old. The album ends up forgettable for the most part.
Die-hard fans probably already own it, but those who aren't fans, this album might not surprise nor impress at all. If your heads hadn't turned since Halcyon, there is no reason why it would turn now. It's an average album that would be a feature in the future should there be any landmark singles, which I just don't see happening.
Favourite Tracks: On My Mind, Don't Need Nobody, Holding On For Life
Least Favourite Tracks: Aftertaste, Codes, Around U
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.