Since her launch onto the music scene five years ago, Ellie Goulding has become one of the UK’s most successful artists. Largely propelled by an appearance on ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ in addition to winning the BBC Sound of 2010 poll, début album ‘Lights’ was a huge success, spawning six singles. Second album ‘Halcyon’ fared even better whilst the spectacular ‘Love Me Like You Do’, taken from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack flew into Number One around the world earlier this year.
‘Delirium’ is far more of a pop effort than previous two albums. Whilst the eerie electro elements, reverberated vocals and scatty synths are still present, it’s far more upbeat in nature and is abundant with catchy pop hooks. An assortment of huge pop writers are present on the album, aiding Goulding in her venture into commercial Pop, including Ryan Tedder, Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, Carl Falk and Jim Eliot.
The pop-iest moments are the album’s forte. Greg Kurstin is enlisted as a writer on five tracks and each of these work beautifully. ‘Aftertaste’ is an exuberant track featuring shimmering synths, piano chords and funky guitar riffs. It’s still undoubtedly Goulding and her electro-pop but Kurstin’s production adds an extra dimension which transforms it into one of the album’s highlights. Similarly, ‘Don’t Panic’ is a pop/disco foot-stomper built around an oriental xylophone-like riff which is at times reminiscent of 80’s Madonna & Cyndi Lauper. ‘Something In The Way You Move’ is effortlessly catchy with funky bass riffs and melodic pop hooks whilst ‘Around U’ is somewhat bizarrely reminiscent of computer game music but is hugely enjoyable. It’s a breathy, synthpop track which could easily have been featured on début album ‘Lights’.
The album also uses elements of gospel-music on a selection of tracks. ‘Holding on For Life’ is a prime example, featuring a gospel choir and house piano riffs to create a unique but triumphant fusion of gospel-house. ‘We Can’t Move To This’ is built around scatty vocal clips, evolving into a nineties-house-like track with bizarre pitch-moderated vocals. Sultry power-ballad ‘Love Me Like You Do’ is slotted in nicely into the middle of the album and is still a prodigious piece of pop perfection.
‘Keep On Dancing’ is a more assertive track featuring a catchy whistling hook, descending hollow synths and dance-pop percussion whilst ‘Codes’ is a superior version of ‘On My Mind’, utilising jittery synths, meticulously programmed beats and a hugely addictive chorus.
The album does lose focus at times. Lead single ‘On My Mind’ is by far one of the worst tracks on the record. Goulding’s attempt to fuse electro-pop with R&B results in a confused track on which trap drums and rap-like vocals fall flat. Similarly, whilst undoubtedly catchy, the repetition present in ‘Don’t Need Nobody’ is more irritating than enjoyable.
Towards the end, whilst maintaining the pop and electro-pop elements, Goulding revisits the folktronica she bought to prominence on début album ‘Lights’. This is particularly the case on ‘Lost and Found’ and ‘Devotion’, two slightly intense moments featuring acoustic guitars and shimmering piano chords but feature impressive electro breaks. Second single, the dark and emotive ‘Army’ is also loyal to Goulding’s signature sound and is particularly reminiscent of material on ‘Hacylon’. It’s a gorgeous pop ballad and a stand-out moment on the album. The album closes with ‘Scream It Out’, an epic arena-anthem track with a euphoric chorus.
At sixteen tracks and almost an hour long, ‘Delirium’ is incredibly long. An album of this length is always an audacious feat but it holds its own and is largely enjoyable.
A bold, effervescent album which remains loyal to Goulding’s signature sound but exhibits the courage to place a pop spin on it.
- Rating: 4/5.
- Highlights: Aftertaste, Something in the Way You Move, Codes, Love Me Like You Do, Don’t Panic, Army.
‘Delirium’ is available now on Polydor records.