REVIEW: Ellie Goulding’s sophomore album, Halcyon

By Melissa Bykofsky

Goulding introduces a mature, indie pop follow-up.


English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding made her American debut with “Lights,” the hit single off her 2010 album Bright Lights. The song was catchy and electronic with heavy dance beats. Two years later Goulding introduces a mature, indie pop follow-up Halcyon.

The mythical halcyon is a large bird that nests on the sea, calming stormy water before it lays its egg there. The name “halcyon” is often synonymous for peace and calmness.

Goulding’s Halcyon is calming and trance-like, but the album’s serenity has an edge. Most of her songs open with a background chorus and synthesized instrumentals. The lyrics are often used to carry the melody. The first song “Don’t Say a Word” has a repetition of the phrase “if you’d never said anything, if you’d never.”

The title song “Halcyon” is the epitome of album’s calmness. The melody, the rhythm of the lyrics and the clarity of Goulding’s voice reach a peak in sadness through her words. “You show me what it feels like to be lonely,” she belts out. But she recreates the peace at the close of the song by reminding herself “it’s gonna be better.”

Produced by Jim Eliot and released by the Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment label Polydor, Halycon released just when Goulding has emerged as a global icon. She performed at the Royal Wedding reception last year and music festivals around the world. “Lights” may have taken more than a year to creep to the top of American charts, but once it got there, it never left.

Goulding delivers an album loaded with emotion and just enough punch to get you out of the darkness she first took you into. Her songs stand alone as singles and also work together to tell an album-long story.

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