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|1. Don't Say A Word|
|2. My Blood|
|3. Anything Could Happen|
|4. Only You|
|6. Figure 8|
|8. Hanging On|
|10. I Know You Care|
|12. Dead In The Water|
|13. Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding - I Need Your Love (Bonus Track)|
|14. Short film: Paper Planes and Playground Games (via digital insert)|
It's little wonder, then, that Halcyon finds her in metamorphosis again. Gone is the perky hybrid of electro-folk pop that illuminated Lights, as opener Don't Say a Word lays out a fine manifesto for change. It sees Ellie throwing herself at a would-be-lover's feet, riding a crest of choral chanting and gloomy soundscapes before the whole thing explodes in a burst of shooting stars.
While there are ample bangers – Anything Can Happen boasts spurting synths and a sky-kissing chorus – there's electro-ballad finery, too. Joy is a string-laden affair that showcases her helium-powered pipes, while I Know You Care sees her try to convince someone – us, her lover, herself – that they have something worth salvaging: "I know it wasn't always wrong / But I've never known a winter so cold."
What scuppers Halcyon, though, is the sense that Ellie's still not nailed down her own identity. There's just too much bombast, and the magpie-like-production and big, booming arrangements swaddle rather than swathe her vocals. Far from showing off her talents, the likes of Figure 8 and Atlantis become bottomless pits filled with heavy-handed knob-twiddling.
Most frustrating of all, perhaps, is the "bonus track" collaboration with Calvin Harris, I Need Your Love. It's a tantalising glimpse of what she could be capable of when her voice isn't submerged – and, ironically for a track she can only claim half-ownership of, it's got a swagger and bounce that feels resolutely more "her" than when she's playing gloomy dress-up.
As a second coming, Halcyon shows Goulding’s not wanting in ambition, or incapable of conjuring up the odd bit of magic. But next time, she needs to make sure she's a bit choosier about what exactly she pours into the cauldron.
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