Customer Reviews: Halcyon
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VINE VOICEon August 31, 2013
My star rating is based entirely on the new songs. If you don't already have Halcyon, bump it up to an additional star, as the main album is outstanding.

Ellie Goulding has done this twice now. First came Lights, then came Bright Lights, the same album with a number of bonus tracks. Okay, she was still establishing herself at that point, and that was a way to get some more product out there to support her popularity as it took a while for the "Lights" single to catch on. Her proper follow-up, Halcyon, was great. Now comes the same album with an entire album's worth of new songs tacked on. Of course, to get it, you have to repurchase Halcyon. (By the way, "Lights" is a bonus track on that album. So, if you bought all of Goulding's releases up to this point, you've bought this song four times! As great as that song is, that's just not fair to the buyer.)

The solution would seem to be to download the individual tracks, if you already have Halcyon. The pricing doesn't work out in the customer's favor yet again, though.

I don't usually comment on price, but this is just too lousy a trend not to write about. Please, Ellie, release new music on its own. This rapid-fire rereleasing of albums is just a poorly conceived method of selling music, disrespecting fans who buy your music on faith the day it's originally put on the market.

The new songs themselves, by the way, range from good to very good. Nothing's bad, but only "Burn" stands out so far as being excellent.
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on October 9, 2012
So I am not really sure of what gives with these British gals and their sophomore "break-up" albums, but I sure do love it. I have been awaiting this album for over a year, and I was so excited it finally released. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. For those of you who were looking for a copy-cat electropop/dance record similar to "Lights", you might be . What I love about this album is that you can hear and feel Ellie progressing from the first album. I also like that I can tell she is listening to other artists and incorporating elements in the tracks, yet still keeping true to her unique sound and vocal ability. The album is part "Lights", part Florence +the Machine, part Annie Lennox, part Minnie Riperton (for those of us old enough to remember), part Bjork, yet all still strangely Ellie. This album is much darker than "Lights", and I feel like that is a good thing for the artist. She definitely can't be boxed in to a particular genre anymore.
I was glad that she didn't have TOO much influence from new boyfriend Skrillex, and though indeed the dubstep/brostep sound is prominent on a few songs (mainly the hard-thumping "Figure 8"), it doesn't take over the whole album. Based on the lyrical content, it seems most of the tracks were written soon after her break-up with Radio1 DJ Greg James, and before her new beau. The difficulty of picking up the pieces and finding your life without the attachment to another is definitely present on the album. Here's my track by track breakdown:
"Don't Say a Word" - the album begins with a haunting, lilting voice-track, much in the style of Riperton, then the Bjork/Florence Welch style kicks in with the instrumentation underneath. What I like about this song is angelic theme that briefly makes an appearance toward the end, which incorporates back into the instrumentation for the finish.
"My Blood" - probably the song that is the most radio/pop-friendly on the album (though this is definitely a pop album overall). This song definitely reminds me of a Florence track, given the thumping bass beat and the tribal elements, similar to "Heartlines" on Florence's album "Ceremonials". The piano combinations with the beat create a dreamy scene, and the harmonies on this track are amazing. She will repeat this pattern of a simple vocal "hum" that become the basis for many of the tracks. The overall beauty of this track and the strong vocal make this a great listen.
"Anything Could Happen" - the first single off the album, this track has probably got the best hook of all the tracks. It definitely gets stuck in your head. Many of the tracks have water references like this one does. The huge sound of this track is great. For some reason, I have images of the "Hunger Games" in my head as I listen to it. She really lets go on the vocal with this one, with surprising strength toward the end of the track. Great song.
"Only You" - Again with the vocal "hum" making the basis of the track. Amazing beat to it and a song that I would love to hear on the radio. To me, this track definitely has many influences of Annie Lennox, especially the lyric writing. This is a woman on the verge of a breakdown, scratching and clawing to hold on to a failed relationship. Stunned by the amazing instrumentation during the bridge of the song. Reminds me a bit of Annie's song "Little Bird".
"Halcyon" - On the title track of the album, Ellie begins to break into a softer sound with brilliant lyrics and incredible harmonies. The lyrics "you show me what it feels like to be lonely/you show me what it feels like to be lost" are heartfelt and heartbreaking, even as the promise of things "getting better" sound like an empty wish or promise flying into the ethers under the lilting phrasing of the song.
"Figure 8" - the definite first angry track on the album, to me at least. This track shows Ellie at her complete breaking point, going round and round the same "figure 8" negativity that show many people find themselves in at the end of a relationship, trying to "hold on" and finally having that realization that anything is better than what you are in currently. It definitely fits with the dubstep undertrack. Hot song.
"Joy" - love this song for its simplicity, and most of all, some of the best lyrics on the album up to this point. She reminds me of Riperton on this track. The opening piano is great, and is that an Adele influence on this track? This song seems a natural follow up to the tumultuousness of "Figure 8", the realization that "joy is not in your arms"/"think it's time to run cause I'm seeing stars, watch me fall apart". I love the irony that the timbre of the song is so beautiful in a moment of crisis, yet strangely you never lose the promise of self-discovery and self-empowerment.
"Hanging On" - a little bit of the dubstep in fluence shows up here too with the underbeat. Ellie shows off her amazing upper-register here with some real strength and amazing results. I hear some Florence influences in this one as well. This track is a little sparse in the lyric department. Goulding relies more on the overall sound of the song to convey the meaning.
"Explosions" - In my opinion, one of the best songs on the album. Definite Bjork influence here. In fact, it sounds so much like Bjork it's kinda scary. Very reminiscent of Joga off Bjork's "Homogenic". However, the best lyrics on the album, with a sound to match. What I love in this track is the conviction to the lyrics Goulding has here. You can feel how much she feels these lyrics. It has to be about the immediate after break-up with Greg James. The lyrics "Cause it's simple darling, I gave you a warning/Now everything you own is falling from the sky in pieces/So watch them fall with you in slow motion/I pray that you will find peace of mind/And I'll find you another time/I will love you another time" are just remarkable. The piano accompaniment is breathtaking.
"I Know You Care" - A beautifully heartbreaking melody, stripped down to just Ellie and the piano, adding to the heart-wrenching lyrics of a hopeless relationship and what might have been. One of the best performances on the record as far as emotion and musicality.
"Atlantis" - Strangely the album takes a weird turn for one song back to the "Lights" sound. I thought this track should have been relegated to the bonus tracks or maybe someplace else in the album. I loved the song, and appreciated the return to original Ellie, however it seems kinda out of place.
"Dead in the Water" - This track has a not so subtle Enya influence, which works for me with the water references. In my opinion, this should have been the last track of the actual album.
"I Need Your Love" - A return to the dance feel of "Lights". Again, I felt this was a little out of place on the tracklist, kinda like it was just thrown on at the end. I could definitely hear this tune on the radio, and the dance mixes will probably be awesome.
"Lights" - Seems like this repeat was thrown on the end of the album for all the US fans who didn't actually buy the first album. Great song to revisit.
All in all, this is definitely a 5 out of 5. I'm almost tempted to go 4 ½ after the muddiness of the tracklist at the end of the album. I'm a huge fan of this album and of Goulding. One of my top 5 albums this year for sure. Glad she made a pure pop record!
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on August 28, 2013
Ellie Goulding is one of my favorite artists right now. She doesn't go over the top to try to be different, she's just naturally different and very talented. Lights and Halcyon were very good albums. Halcyon days would have been perfect if it were A: just the new tracks from the second disc. and B: titled something else. In my opinion there wasn't any need to make this an addition to Halcyon. There are enough solid tracks out of the new songs to make this a completely new album, unless she thought there wasn't enough time in between the two. Aside from this minor issue, there are some awesome new songs on the second disc. My favorite is Under Control by far, the chorus is absolutely amazing. Other great songs are Goodness Gracious, How Long will I Love You, Stay Awake with Madeon, Midas Touch, and Hearts Without Chains. Burn may be some people's favorite but I don't care for it too much. You My Everything has the same feel as Stay Awake but you can't come close to Madeon. Flashlight is just okay, same with Tessellate (Although I do like the Saxophone parts in Tessellate) Overall I'm very happy with these new additions to Halcyon!
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on November 1, 2012
My prior review is below. I have now culled out the songs on this disc, I like ... I must say I love them. I find myself listening to them over and over. If you consider the repeated lyrics as a product of Ellie's instrument: her voice, you can get over the repetition. I am always on the search for what I call "life songs." That is, songs I will like for my entire life. This disc has at least two. I am warming up to it.


Even today if you scratch vinyl, you can get the stylus stuck in a groove. The result is a repeated lyric over and over and over until you make a physical correction. No doubt about it, Ellie G has an incredible voice, but she needs to find a lyricist to help out to fill in holes with something other than repeated refrains. Across this album Ellie repeats lyrics over and over to the extent that I can't listen again to a given song. On the iconic ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN she reminds of of the track title over 20 times. Halcyon is a great song with a wonderful riff, but she tells us IT'S GONNA BE BETTER 27 times in just a few minutes. I tried to LET IT GO, LET IT GO, LET IT GO, LET IT GO, LET IT GO ... , but it really doesn't ever get that much better for me. With this talent, I find myself wondering how good it could be if Ellie found her Bernie Taupin.
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on September 3, 2013
I already bought most of the music on this album. Please release a separate selection of the new songs only. It could be an MP3 version only if necessary. I think you may be sacrificing a lot of potential sales by restricting the release to an album that includes a majority of songs that fans have already purchased. Otherwise I'll be waiting to find a cheap used copy of the album.
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on September 19, 2013
I have to agree with a few of the other posters, having already bought Halcyon so I have 18 out of these 28 songs. So if I buy the ones I can individually it'd cost me $15, almost the full cost of the album, and I still miss out on 3 of the album only songs. Can they just release a "Halcyon Days Addition album" which has the 10 new ones that Halycon owners would already have? I really like her music, but I'm skipping on this album on principal alone.

Like another poster said it... a lousy way to treat fans.
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on October 9, 2012
The main thing to remember about this new album is that it is not Lights. It's a totally new album. One cannot expect the same thing when the artist has grown and matured, and why would they write the same album over again? The overall tone of Halcyon is much more moody and sad. But I also feel like this is much more personal than Lights. Sure, Ellie wrote all of the songs on Lights mostly from personal experience. But none of them got into the raw emotion and personal feelings that Halcyon does. I feel like this has its own identity, just like Lights did. I don't compare the two. I love them both. My favorite tracks are Only You, My Blood (the lyrics are SO incredibly deep and personal), I Need Your Love, Ritual (deluxe track) and Dead in the Water.
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on October 21, 2013
I love Ellie, but I agree with several other reviewers. It's insulting to fans to expect us to re-purchase the entire album for 10 new songs. It's just not cost effective. It would be good to release the new songs separately.
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on October 9, 2012
UK songstress Ellie Goulding burst onto the music scene with her sparkly brand of electro pop. Since then she and Skrillex have become an item and besides adopting a similar haircut to his, they have also collaborated a bit. Her sophomore disc "Halcyon" features a more mature sound with more pensive and personal lyrics.

"Don't Say A Word" opens the album with disembodied choir sounds and almost tribal percussion. "Anything Could Happen", "Only You", The swirling Dubstep-influenced "Figure 8", the shimmery club anthem "I Need Your Love" which features Calvin Harris, and the US no. 2 hit "Lights" are all upbeat numbers.

This time around, the album is laden with ballads laden with choral walls, from "My Blood", the acoustic "Halcyon", the spare "Joy" (which allows her voice to soar unhindered), the lovely "Hanging On", "Explosions", the delicate piano ballad "I Know You Care" (which sounds like it dropped from Adele's handbag), "Atlantis", and the phenomenal "Dead In The Water", a gentle number that builds and builds, as does the album.
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VINE VOICEon October 16, 2012
**** 1/2

I've probably listened to this album twenty times, and I'm still trying to figure it out. When I first started listening to it, all I wanted to do was immerse myself in the intoxicating sounds. First and foremost, that ethereal, old-soul soprano. Second, the lush, shimmering production: The sweeping, orchestral touches, the more subdued acoustic moments, and the experimental and occasionally even spastic electronica that comes and goes throughout the album.

But then after listening to many of the tracks over and over again, I finally started listening more closely to the words that Ellie is singing. And I discovered that so many of them were sad tales about broken relationships. "Anything Could Happen" sounds at first like a techno gospel song, with her vocals so soaring and powerful at its peak, when she sings "I know it's gonna be" eight times in a row, each time sounding like she's reaching harder for the divine. But then you realize what follows, when she sings "but I don't think I need you." These surprise lyrics change the tone of the song entirely.

Something similar happens on the next track, "Only You," a throbbing, electronic blues song. The song at first listen seems to suggest lust and longing, until you pay closer attention to the lyrics. "Only you could see/the emptiness I feel/when you're with me." The title track, "Halcyon," immediately wears it's melancholy on its sleeve. "When it's just us/You show me what it feels like to be lonely" she sings soberly. And when she claims "It's going to be better" it's clear she means when the relationship is over.

As much as the juxtaposition of Ellie's folky voice and songwriting with cutting-edge electronica drives much of the album, tracks like "JOY" and "I Know You Care" prove that her music can be just as compelling without bells and whistles. And they also make it impossible to ignore the broken heart that was clearly the creative inspiration for this album.

So, after twenty listens, I'm still not entirely sure what to make of "Halcyon". Is it a groundbreaking pop album? Is it a glorious, shimmering break-up record? I'm still not sure. But there's no doubt about this young woman's talent. "Halcyon" shows impressive growth from "Lights" (which I already really liked). Ellie Goulding is the real deal.
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