2020 – Pop
The British pop singer’s fourth album had the potential to be her intimate piece of discovery, however, the pop beats overshadowed this whole possibility and built a long and tiring record for most people.
Five years is a long time. In five years, you can: start and graduate from college; make friends and lose them; change so much that you can look back and no longer recognize yourself. However, in five years, it is undeniable that you grow, mature and evolve. It is one of the most natural things in human life. That was the time it took Ellie Goulding to release her new studio album, Brightest Blue, the successor to 2015’s Delirium—home of the hit “Love Me Like You Do” from the soundtrack to the movie “Fifty Shades Of Gray.” However, unfortunately, this new album shows nothing new and no evolution from Goulding. In its most primary essence, Brightest Blue shows the same songs that Ellie has been working on for some time and this is not exciting at all.
In several interviews, Goulding hinted that her new album would be a kind of complex project that would bring together her best faces to compose intimate, deep and equally captivating songs. Unfortunately, she seriously failed in that. The album is divided into two parts, according to her: the first, “Brightest Blue,” shows the tracks composed by her in her most unique essence, while the second, “EG.0,” combines the singles already released, collaborations and the songs written by Ellie’s alter ego. You will hardly see it or feel it. While the first part is relatively slow, sluggish and tedious, the second has more lively tracks, however, which do not go far beyond songs that follow a standard mold—that is not so current anymore— to be among the most played. It is really sad to see that after 5 years, Ellie shows us a project full of tracks without personality that, despite having well written lyrics, are drowned out by a sonority that struggles to be relevant and captivating in nowadays.
The first few minutes of the album have a potential; however, it is also in the first few minutes that you see the biggest problems here. The album’s opener, “Start,” is a relatively good track. While Ellie sings about her past and about starting over, she mixes classic instruments with more modern elements—like the homogeneous well-done mix between a grand piano with remixed synthetic voices. Unfortunately, as much as this track shows a essence of intimacy, it also shows the problems that end up nullifying that same essence: Josiah Wise appears to sing and ends up totally killing the intimacy that this track showed in the beginning, and, consequently, making the track extremely long and tiring. And this is how Brightest Blue is destroyed: the tracks have an intimate content, however, the fact that the album is long and appeals to a sound that fights to be something successful end up making the lyrics lose their power.
Although several tracks here are relatively generic, it’s undeniable that the biggest mistake of Brightest Blue is the fact that the album is extremely and unnecessarily long. There are 19 tracks and an hour long. The problem is that during that one hour you hardly see a climax, you hardly see tracks that really excite you, make you dance or cry. In addition, Ellie put tracks here that can become even more irrelevant and indifferent making the album even longer. While “Cyan” is a failed attempt to create an interlude of a total change of perspective on love, “Wine Drunk” unites Goulding’s electronic voices just to create a short track that is sonically cool to hear but that in the end is also not so memorable. Finally, at the beginning of “EG.0” we have “Overture”, a instrumental track that shows an intense and dramatic orchestra, which seems lost here since it does not work well with the sound of the album or with the lyrical content. I can see that Ellie wanted to make the album more unique, however, these elements made the album even more tiring.
As previously mentioned, the strongest points of the album are the lyrics which, although not great, are mostly good, however, always end up being suffocated by the instrumental. “Woman” is one of the best tracks and works very well as a relatively intimate track for opting for a simple piano and some electronic elements that don’t take the attention of Ellie’s lyrics and voice—which really sounds beautiful here. “I faced my fears’ till I made it here/Now I don’t know where to stand,” she sings and completes with an even more beautiful voice, “I’ll just leave it up to chance/That’s just the woman I am.” At the end of the album, as much as “Sixteen” has more electronic elements, they don’t disturb the lyrics that show Goulding talking about a friendship that has been the same for her since they were sixteen years old. Unfortunately, these tracks are the only ones that really make a big difference.
In the end, Brightest Blue is like “Brightest Blue,” a track with potential, but it is constantly hampered by an exaggerated attempt to create something successful. Even the tracks that are really good, like “Woman”, and others that are relatively catchy, like Power,” “How Deep Is Too Deep” and collaborations with Blackbear, Diplo, Juice Wrld, Lauv and Swae Lee that are cool to hear, aren’t strong enough to compensate the other songs that are so really generic that make you feel completely indifferent to them. Again, it is really sad to see that we have waited five years to hear songs the same songs as always, only now they are even more tiring.