Singer songwriter Ashley Frangipane, professionally known as Halsey, released her third studio album “Manic” on Jan. 17, 2020.
Halsey is a decorated pop artist known for her unique singing voice. “Manic” is a pop album with electronic, rock and hip-hop influences throughout the record, and it features a variety of artists from the K-pop, indie rock and rap genres respectively. “Manic” is 48 minutes long, with 16 songs.
“Manic” is an intriguing next step in Halsey’s discography after her last album in 2017 titled “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.” Halsey’s album “Manic” shows growth from her previous music, yet encounters the same pitfalls displayed in her last album. She continues her same rebellious yet vulnerable persona but opens up more on mental issues that come with the pop-star lifestyle.
“Manic” is an appropriate title for this album, as Halsey branches out into different tones and genres to create a messy but endearing sound. In this album she is vulnerable, confident, carefree, melancholic and empowering throughout it.
Halsey often transitions between these emotions in the middle of her songs. Her lyricism is clever and insightful, a slight improvement on past projects, but can still come off as immature and abrasive in other parts of the record.
The album explores many themes of mental disorders, as Halsey has publicly discussed her battles with bipolar disorder, emotional abuse and suicidal thoughts. “Manic” gives listeners more of an insight into Halsey’s headspace, displaying constantly shifting emotions. Lyrics such as, “in my world, I'm constantly havin’ a breakthrough or a breakdown or a blackout,” reveal her constantly changing mindset and the raw emotions that come with it.
There are some incredible tracks on this album such as “Forever… (is a long time)” and “929,” which display Halsey’s talent as a lyricist and producer. Halsey self-produced the album and shows high caliber talent for production, especially in tracks like “Ashley,” “Forever… (is a long time)” and “Dominic’s Interlude.” Songs such as “Clementine” and “929” exhibit Halsey’s skill as a lyricist.
What I liked about this album was Halsey’s introspection and unfiltered honesty with struggles such as being bipolar, drug use, relationships and depression. Her insight is incredibly relevant to the struggles affecting 21st century teens and young adults. Halsey’s ability as a producer is nothing to overlook though, as she arranges a unique tone to complement the diverse genres mixed within the record.
What I didn’t like was the messiness of the record, as the contrasting themes of each song made the album feel like it didn’t have a definitive tone to progress the ideas introduced in “Manic.” The songs on this album feel like they could be assorted in any random order and convey the same tone and message, which shouldn’t be considered a strength.
“Manic” is not immune to musical clichés in its themes as well, showering listeners with typical broken heart lyrics that one could find in most modern pop albums. The album doesn’t leave listeners with that much replay value, but I am intrigued to hear more from the New Jersey-born singer songwriter in the future.
Overall, “Manic” by Halsey was a good album, but not a great album. She shows great production strength and connection to fans through her lyrics but shows limitations in her ability to carry a consistent theme throughout the album. This will be a commercially successful album, and is by no means a disappointing effort by Halsey.
In conclusion, “Manic” is an unfiltered introspection of Halsey’s personal life and struggles through relevant 21st century topics, but it lacks the consistent strength to be a defining album of 2020.