It’s actually hilarious to me, that as a “writer”, I have to present my thoughts on a piece of media in an effective and organized way. Listening to this album, I just kept wondering how in the hell I can put into words what this album is doing for me. I can’t find the right vocabulary to describe it, only that it’s very fucking good. Halsey has made another great fucking album… shocker right? This is coming from someone who was still listening to ‘Manic‘ the week before their new album came out. I am actually hopping back and forth from one album to another and it’s very jarring but in the best way possible. It’s actually even funnier when I go back to ‘Manic’s release week because I was in the same exact position I am in now. I knew that I loved the album but I genuinely couldn’t put it into words. Only God can tell how much this record will impact me in the future.
‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is a stirring sequel to Halsey’s ‘Manic‘. The intensely vulnerable lyrics smash against a gothic, fantasy-driven grunge-pop/rock record that is guaranteed to leave you feeling overwhelmed. Whereas ‘Manic’ felt like a colourful origin story for Halsey, ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ feels like the ultimate embrace of that concept. This album is just as great an introductory album as any of her albums despite it being the fourth one. They showcase their greatest strengths in stunning fashion here with deep, cutting lyricism, a wide yet cohesive variety of sounds and a passionate voice at the core of it all. It is sure to bring in waves of new fans along for the ride. The album itself represents the hope and fear that comes along with an experience you have yearned for your entire life and for them it’s getting pregnant. It is incredibly fitting that this album comes to us from Halsey, who fought like hell to open this new chapter in her life because it’s very evident that this record comes straight from their heart. The emotional and mental complexities that come with pregnancy are portrayed effectively in this haunting yet ultimately hopeful love letter to Halsey’s child. As beautiful as it is concept though, Halsey makes damn sure that the listener understands that pregnancy isn’t the same for everyone. The album goes beyond depicting the joyous phenomenon and really dissects the fear, terror and dread that they experienced during their pregnancy.
It is actually fucking insane how I have to rank the entire tracklist and choose a top track. Especially when the first nine tracks are stacked up like that? Game over. Halsey is a literal God with how she places her tracks because I am still not over and will never be over the fact that ‘Forever … (is a long time)’, ‘Dominic’s Interlude’ and ‘I HATE EVERYBODY’ are stacked up like that on ‘Manic‘. They are insane, they are sick and twisted and I don’t know what we did to deserve such excellence. This time, however, we get this phenomenon not once but twice. Like what did we do… truly? The first three tracks flow into each other flawlessly, starting off the album with quite the fucking bang. From the tragic and haunting opening track ‘The Tradition’ to the indescribably entrancing ‘Bells in Santa Fe’ to the absolute banger that is ‘Easier than Lying’. It’s just excellence back to back to back and then they decide to replicate the flow and up the energy with the following three tracks. Speaking of said tracks, it was at this point that I was fearing for my safety because I was fresh off the high that was ‘Easier than Lying’ and then she puts a track like ‘Lilith‘ next to it and I’m just foaming at the fucking mouth. I was so overwhelmed and I still am honestly because this review is a goddamn mess but blame Halsey not me. In their words, ‘I love every second, it’s fucking fantastic’. That quote is especially how I feel about the next two tracks ‘Girl is a Gun’ and ‘You asked for this’. The latter of which is one of the few reasons I haven’t completely broken down this month. This album really couldn’t have come at a better time. The way the song opens honestly made me feel something I haven’t felt in fucking ages.
That being said, the second half of this album is where things start to not be as flawless as that first half. It’s not bad by any means but considering such a strong first half, it is lacking in comparison. The track ‘Darling‘ is eternally sweet in concept but musically it’s not something that caught my ear. I would’ve much preferred a piano over the guitar but that’s just a matter of preference. Lyrically this one actually got me slightly emotional especially after hearing the track ‘More‘ on ‘Manic‘. The following track ‘1121‘ did what I hoped ‘Darling‘ would do by marrying strong, emotional lyrics with an equally moving melody. Easily one of the standout tracks in my opinion. Then we go from talking about birth to essentially what causes it in the unapologetically raunchy track ‘honey‘. This was a blast to listen to, Halsey brings such an infectious personality to these lyrics that you can’t help but smile and bop along even if they are describing someone’s load. I actually cannot believe I wrote that. Moving in is ‘Whispers‘, easily my least favourite track, I genuinely did not care for the execution of this track and I won’t ever listen to it outside of the album. That leads us to the track ‘I am not a woman, I’m a god’ which I think we all had preconceived high hopes for based on that epic title. While it wasn’t at all what I expected, I am still blasting it every goddamn day in the hopes that I might actually boost some self-worth. The instrumental is insane, I am so happy it’s being promoted as a single. It’s new, it’s fresh and it’s nothing like what’s out there right now. For the next two tracks, I will be completely honest when I say that I don’t really have any strong opinions about them. ‘The Lighthouse’ feels like it should be a standout track but it’s definitely one of the less interesting tracks on the record. The closing track ‘Ya’aburnee’ is once again, emotionally powerful in concept but the quality of the lyrics didn’t really match the production.
Overall, ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is a near-perfect record. It is a testament to Halsey’s continuous growth not only as an artist but as a person and that’s why her music is so meaningful; you can see the progress unfold. Despite ending on a rather anti-climactic note, the album starts off on such an impeccable high that the faulty ending is honestly excused. Make no mistake though, it won’t leave you disappointed, Halsey has put together a collection of songs that might even be career-defining, given how long it will sit with the right people. The only real critique I do have is that I cannot watch the accompanying movie because I live outside of the U.S. Petition to put it on a streaming service please and thank you.
RANKING OF SONGS:
1. You asked for this
2. Girl is a Gun
3. Bells in Santa Fe
4. I am not a woman, I’m a god
8. The Tradition
9. Easier than Lying
12. The Lighthouse
‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ (the album) is now available to stream.