REVIEW | Halsey's "Hopeless Fountain Kingdom" is more than an album

MUSIC | Halsey's sophomore album stuns with an imaginative world of star crossed lovers.

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"They told me once, there's a place where love conquers all."

Halsey, born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, was spotted on social media by label Astralwerks in 2014 and has since then been shaking up the music scene with her dark but catchy pop tunes. She first released her debut extended play, Room 93 that same year and toured with Imagine Dragons and The Kooks to build a fanbase which lead up to the release of her debut album Badlands. Halsey is extremely talented at creating a world within her albums. Badlands seemed to be somewhat otherworldly while still focusing on themes that her audience related to all too well. In an interview with Spotify, Halsey said that her sophomore album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom that recently dropped is a much more mature album for her and I wholeheartedly agree. While Halsey still creates a unique world within her album, I think it's represented even stronger in Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. While Halsey still excels at creating catchy riffs within her songs, she advances in maintaining that while creating a more dynamic, unique album that truly tells a story.

Halsey first introduced us to the world of Hopeless Fountain Kingdom in her music video for "Now or Never" which debuted in tandem with the album's first single. The music video, more like a short film, told the story of two young lovers from two conflicting groups having an affair amidst the violence and conflict. The world of Hopeless Fountain Kingdom mimics that of Verona in Romeo and Juliet but with an updated twist. Halsey sets Hopeless Fountain Kingdom in an urban dystopian kingdom that draws inspiration from medieval lore. This world is illustrated throughout the album in the dissonant layers of her songs and their cinematic builds and cathartic denouements.

The album takes it a step further of Badlands, who's strongest triumph was having a strong sense of identity. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom starts with "The Prologue" which is Halsey performing the prologue from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet over a medieval reminiscent drone and chant. The "The Prologue" flourishes into a verse that not only sets the scene but is eerily relevant to today's social and political climate.


"I am a child of a
Money hungry, prideful country
Grass is green and it's always sunny
Hands so bloody, tastes like honey
I'm finding it hard to leave
I am a child of a
Money hungry, prideful country
Grass is green and it's always sunny
Hands so bloody, tastes like honey
I'm finding it hard to leave"

The meat of the album is incredibly substantial, she takes you on a journey through Hopeless Fountain Kingdom with honest and catchy songs. I've been listening to the album non-stop since I realized it came out and every day I strongly connect with a new song. In her usual style, the songs all seem to connect with the same dark, ambient feel; however, they have matured in that Halsey discovers and experiences the experiences she is writing about before, during, and after which allows her to live in the pain, take ownership over mistakes, and anticipate all at once which creates an incredibly dynamic set of songs. Around midway through the album, the song "Good Mourning" breaks up the more danceable tunes and draws us back into the story and world of the album. This track is uniquely creepy. It starts on spoken word:

"They told me once, there's a place where love conquers all.
A city with the streets full of milk and honey.
I haven't found it yet, but I'm still searching.
All I know is a hopeless place that flows with the blood of my kin."

It progresses into a chant "sun is coming up oh why oh why," suggesting that Halsey and her secret lover's affair takes place overnight. "Good Mourning" transitions beautifully into "Lie" which really kicks the album into full speed. The album ends on "Hopeless" a track where Halsey admits to her indecisiveness. At the end of the song she proclaims, "and my heart, hopeless, changes all the time." This is really interesting as the character Romeo and Juliet have been criticized over the years for doing something extreme when they are too young to know what love is and that their minds may change tomorrow.

While I don't think Halsey is directly pointing to this, using a Romeo and Juliet type world as a vehicle for her music was incredibly inventive and worked incredibly well. I think a general theme in her songs from this album is missed connections or star crossed lovers if you will. Halsey continues to impress and create not only amazing songs but stunning imagery on her sophomore album. I am ecstatic. to see what's next for her.

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Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @anie_delgado and on Facebook and check out her music on Spotify.

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