Halsey: If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power review – a muscular pop statement

UNmerican singer-songwriter Halsey’s excellently titled fourth album comes accompanied by a film, unavailable to view at the time of writing. Trailers suggest un Game of Thrones-meets-French Revolution-themed goth rock opera about the Madonna-whore complex.

The album’s 13 tracks don’t quite live up to that billing, but there is no denying that Halsey, who recently gave birth, wants to make a muscular and epic statement. Otherwise, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails would be a very odd choice for midwives to a pop superstar’s emotional album about love, pregnancy and female sexuality.

Il Grammy-winning film soundtrackers have certainly fulfilled the pummelling, rockist brief. Easier Than Lying is shouty and electronic, while You Asked for This finds Halsey fronting a Smashing Pumpkins pastiche. Amid all the Sturm und Drang and sludgy oompah (The Lighthouse) there is some high-quality writing, chiefly in the pizzicato niggles and Jesus analogies of Bells in Santa Fe (“it’s not a happy ending”) and Whispers, a great song about Halsey’s internal weather that features the voice in her head, the “monster inside her”. This versatile pop artist “camouflages”, she sings, “to feed the lie that I’m composed”.

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