Tragic king­dom

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music -

Re­views by AN­GELIN YEOH

THIS pop act is the stage name for Jack Antonoff, the Grammy-win­ning pro­ducer and song­writer for the likes of Tay­lor Swift, Sia and Carly Rae Jepsen. Be­fore all that, he made his name through in­die pop band Fun, which achieved world­wide suc­cess with songs like We Are Young and Some Nights.

With Gone Now, Antonoff is per­haps try­ing to in­duce hap­less feel­ings of nos­tal­gia. The whole al­bum has this retro 80s synth-in­flu­enced sound which may re­mind you of John Hughes movies. Catchy an­themic lead sin­gle Don’t Take My Money is a prime ex­am­ple of that. Co-writ­ten by Lorde, the song is about the in­se­cu­ri­ties that come with ev­ery re­la­tion­ship. The same for­mula goes for songs like All My He­roes, Ev­ery­body Lost

Some­body and I Miss Those Days – all up­beat num­bers with cheer­ful dis­po­si­tions that mask feel­ings of help­less­ness.

Not ev­ery­thing is doom and gloom though, as Noth­ing Is U is lovely elec­tropop piano bal­lad pow­ered by re­al­is­tic op­ti­mism (“And I can’t be alone any­more...”). Gone Now’s one glar­ing mishap is Good­bye, a badly-writ­ten tune that could have been a boy­band cat­a­logue re­ject that Antonoff picked up for the sake of irony. If you feel like yearn­ing for bet­ter days when ev­ery­thing was pretty in pink, then Gone Now is for you.

THE list of co-writ­ers on Halsey’s lat­est al­bum reads like a Who’s Who in pop mu­sic. The 22-year-old singer got ev­ery­one from The Weeknd to Aus­tralian pop queen Sia and Adele’s Grammy-win­ning pro­ducer Greg Kurstin.

Hope­less Foun­tain King­dom opens with Halsey in­tro­duc­ing lis­ten­ers to the al­bum’s theme about for­bid­den love through her read­ing of Shake­speare’s Romeo And Juliet. The Weeknd’s trade­mark dark and moody sound is ev­i­dent in Eyes Closed. It’s an at­mo­spheric elec­tro num­ber where Halsey sings painfully about em­bark­ing on a new re­la­tion­ship while still think­ing about her for­mer lover (“Now if I keep my eyes closed, he looks just like you...”). If you like The Weeknd then this track will be right up your al­ley.

Now Or Never is a slow-burn­ing R&B tune that should please fans of Ri­hanna. Then there’s the in­tro­spec­tive Devil In Me which has Sia writ­ten all over it.

Un­for­tu­nately, it all makes me won­der what Halsey sounds like on her own. Hope­less Foun­tain King­dom seems de­void of a track that is es­sen­tially Halsey, as al­most ev­ery num­ber is a generic, unin­spir­ing copy of an ex­ist­ing hit song. It’s a shame, as Halsey has been one of the more in­ter­est­ing pop stars of late with her frank take on iden­tity and strug­gles with men­tal dis­or­der. Here’s hop­ing she lands the next one.

en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my Bleach­ers Gone Now Sony

Halsey

Hope­less Foun­tain King­dom Univer­sal

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