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Halsey - If I Cant Have Love, I Want Power

  by Zena Grieg

published: 18 / 10 / 2021

Halsey - If I Cant Have Love, I Want Power
Label: EMI
Format: CD


Gritty and thought=provoking rock on latest album from Halsey, who came out as non-binary earlier this year

The 26-year old American singer-musician Halsey has just released her latest album. Halsey, who came out as non-binary earlier this year, now uses the pronouns “she” and “they”. This fourth album, ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is a thoughtful, rock-styled collection, inspired by the arrival of Halsey’s baby, replete with songs addressing body positivity and sexuality with Halsey’s characteristic candour. The record is produced by film composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of industrial rock act Nine Inch Nails, whose pulsating electronic rock provides a compelling, cinematic-style backdrop to this new album. Alternating between different modes: grunge (‘You Asked For This’; ‘Honey’); electro-bop (‘Girl is a Gun’); and folk-pop (‘Darling’), the thirteen songs are minimalist in this album, which unusually features no singles. Accompanying it is an R-rated film made by Halsey, exploring “the lifelong social labyrinth of sexuality and birth.” Key themes are misogyny (‘Tradition’) with parenthood the theme of the disquietingly vulnerable piano ballad ‘1121’, about the time she learned she was pregnant. As the album progresses, Halsey questions whether she is comfortable with the trappings of traditional domesticity – “You wished upon a falling star/And then left behind the avant garde/For lemonade in crystal glasses/Picket fences, file taxes”. ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ unflinchingly explores “the dichotomy of the Madonna and the Whore.” Highlights include: the muted, but hard-hitting opener ‘Tradition’; the spikey ‘Girl is a Gun’; the ballad ‘Darling’ with intricate guitar work| from Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham; and the catchy, ‘I Am Not A Woman, I’m A God’ with its provocative, authentic lyrics. Halsey's ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ with its new more dissonant, grittier direction marks an interesting musical development for this forthright and intriguing artist.

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