Halsey’s ‘Manic’ is meaningful and heartfelt or something like that – Duke Chronicle

Posted: January 25, 2020 at 8:45 pm


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Halseys latest album, Manic, partially explores her day-to-day struggle with bipolar disorder. Courtesy of Capitol Records

When Halsey confesses, Man, Im a fing liar, at the close of her new album Manic, on track 929, it comes as a revelation that, perhaps ironically, Manic is the most truthful work of Halseys career.

After two concept albums Badlands and Hopeless Fountain Kingdom theres something profound about an album finally created by and for Ashley Frangipane. Starting Manic with a song named after herself and embedding intimate touches throughout, its clear that Halsey has delivered on this idea, providing a heartfelt and personal window into her own life.

To find Halsey at her best, look for when shes at her most vulnerable. In Manic, that would be More, a devastating ode to Halseys desire to have children. Despite three miscarriages and a long list of barriers in her way, she has continued to strive for motherhood. More conveys this tragic concept beautifully, with the lyrics Wooden floors and little feet / a flower bud in concrete reverberating throughout the entire album. When Halsey declares Im so glad I never ever had a baby with you on her alt-country single You should be sad, the blow is felt all the more acutely, and when she utters I've stared at the sky in Milwaukee / and hoped that my father would finally call me on 929, it dawns on listeners that maybe her desire to be a mom grew out of the neglect she experienced as a child.

Beyond her ability to create a fascinating narrative, Halsey knows how to design a downright fantastic track sequence. All of her transitions are consistently respectable, its the five-track stretch from Forever (is a long time) to Without Me that fully shows off Halseys dexterity in crafting an entertaining sequence of songs. Each track seamlessly flows into the next, anchoring Manic by developing a compelling core for the entire album. To connect the songs, Halsey uses a variety of methods, including an earnest voicemail by John Mayer at the end of 3am, congratulating her for the chart-topping Without Me.

At the heart of this five-track progression is the one-minute-long Dominics Interlude. Despite being such a short song, it effectively ties together the sequence by connecting lyrically to the preceding Forever (is a long time) and sonically to the subsequent I HATE EVERYBODY. Additionally, Dominic Fikes vocals add some spice to the section, preventing each song from running together.

The other featured artists on Manic also join in for interludes. Alongside Dominic Fike, Halsey managed to assemble an irresistible list of collaborators, including SUGA from BTS and Alanis Morissette. Despite each of these two interludes clocking in at upward of two minutes, they both still effectively segment Manic. Halsey and Alaniss shouts of Your py is a wonderland help pick up the pace of Manic while simultaneously paying tribute to Halseys sexual empowerment and bisexuality. SUGAs Interlude reverses that effect, slowing the tempo back down with some gentle Korean bars.

Wedged between these two tracks is killing boys, which opens with none other than a sample from a deleted scene from the 2009 horror movie Jennifers Body. Youre killing people. No, Im killing boys, it begins, before eventually moving into an impassioned progression of kicking down doors, keying Ferraris and Kill Bill allusions. Its not the first time weve seen an angry Halsey. You should be sad and Without Me each represent the emotion in their own way, but killing boys is definitely the only track where it seems like Halsey is actually having fun.

Halsey, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 17, set out to create an album modeled after the mania she regularly experiences. The title, Manic, reflects this goal for the album, and Halsey admirably finds success in encapsulating the feeling in each song. On clementine, a song taking inspiration from the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, she asserts, I'm constantly, constantly havin' a breakthrough, or a breakdown or a blackout.

That sentiment is reflected elsewhere on Manic, especially on the misleadingly-named I HATE EVERYBODY, when she bluntly sings, So I just keep sayin' I hate everybody / But maybe I, maybe I don't. But perhaps nowhere is Halsey as strong in portraying mania as in the single Graveyard. With a simple gasp for air, Halsey captures the desperation she faces on a daily basis. That struggle perfectly describes Manic, an album entirely her own in every way.

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Halsey's 'Manic' is meaningful and heartfelt or something like that - Duke Chronicle

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January 25th, 2020 at 8:45 pm