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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos

ELLIE GOULDING 'HIGHER THAN HEAVEN' REVIEW

☆☆☆☆

Image: Vasili Papathanasopoulos


When you think of electro-pop, it’s hard not to think of Ellie Goulding as a formidable force of the genre. Since 2010, the British artist has delivered hits such as Lights, Anything Could Happen, Burn and On My Mind to name a few. On her latest offering, Higher Than Heaven, Goulding continues to prove why she’s a powerhouse within pop music over a decade on from the launch of her career. She describes the record as her “least personal album,” and in the wake of intimately driven compositions, the singer has delivered a carefully curated body of work that pairs maximalist production with her euphoric vocals to create an infectiously fun body of work that is a return to form.


Opening with Midnight Dreams, it’s clear Goulding is here to deliver an album full of dance floor bangers. The track brings together contemporary sensibilities with 80’s nostalgia, fuelled by a simmering funk-infused beat. It’s refreshing and fun in an age where pop music can sometimes feel like the antithesis of the genre itself. Striking piano chords introduce us to Cure For Love, which could seamlessly fit into the singers seminal sophomore album Halcyon, before erupting with bombastic production that you’d find in an underground club in Berlin in the 90’s and early 2000’s. The track finds the singer moving on from heart-break, more self-assured than ever. By The End Of The Night is shaking off the hardships of the past few years and basking in the glow of togetherness, a glow that emits joy and fulfilment. The synth-laden Like A Saviour again harks back to to the anthemic darker sonic notes of Halcyon, before the more atmospheric and down-tempo Love Goes On allows a moment to cleanse your palette and take it all in.



Goulding offered up the first taste of the album with Easy Lover, a collaboration with American rapper Big Sean. Written five years prior to its release with Julia Micheals, Greg Kurstin and Sean Anderson, the track explores being pulled back in to a toxic lover and finds Goulding delivering a powerful vocal performance, perfectly complimented by Big Sean’s melodic flow as jagged production spikes beneath the pair. One of the records standout moments is its title track. Dynamic production drives the songs euphoric nature, heralded by Goulding’s mesmerising vocal performance. There’s an effortless quality to the arrangement, a softness that wraps itself around Goulding’s inimitable vocals and draws the listener in. This softness is immediately juxtaposed on Let It Die, which offers more direct and accentuated production. The empowering cut is a message to leave behind those who bring darkness and hurt to your life, and echos the songs darker sonic quality. The album takes a more soulful turn on Waiting For It, a lustful moment set atop punctuated beats, before diverting back to it’s overriding pop exploration on Just 4 U and How Long. Both tracks pull back the maximalist production that powered the albums earlier tracks, allowing for more relaxed melodies and production.

Higher Than Heaven is a masterclass in crafting expertly polished pop music. Bringing together a number of threads of her musical output over the past fourteen years, Goulding presents mature understanding of the wonders of pop music and how to curate a body of work that evokes unbridled joy and euphoria. Spirited soundscapes unfurl throughout, booming beneath Goulding’s compelling performance that never falters. Her unique tone and texture truly sets her apart from other contemporary pop luminaries, which paired with her understanding of storytelling and composition places her as a continued key player within the genre. She’s leaving behind the analytical nature of soul-bearing lyricism, albeit not entirely (the collection of songs does bring lively and engaging lyrical moments), to offer a collection of songs to be consumed as a joyous, dance-inducing body of work.


Higher Than Heaven is out now!


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