Sophomore albums are always a tricky one. Compared to debuts where everything seems fresh and an artist is mostly able to produce a clear representation of themselves with no real expectations sophomore albums are a whole other game. I went into Halsey‘s sophomore album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom with a clear mind and no expectations. I wanted to believe the best, I wanted a clean pallet to mull over the intricacies of the album and see where she was headed now, but I was just kinda let down.
Whereas Badlands seemed so clear and aware of itself Hopeless Fountain Kingdom seems so unknown about itself. It’s like Halsey has completely lost her own identity and throughout the album, she’s grasping at different straws to find what made her one of the most talked about new artists of late.
The emotion on the album seems overly forced and fake, like someone copying a post off Tumblr and trying to pass it off as their own, pretending to be deep and thoughtful. Sorry, the albums piano-driven ballad is strangely placed mid-album and sandwiched between album stand out Now Or Never and interlude (?) track Good Mourning and it fails to reach the emotional impact that it strives to acheive.
The album traverses a multitude of genres going from Latin-tinged tracks to the classically alt-pop range of Badlands and then into weird areas of EDM, Experimental and RNB. The album doesn’t sound cohesive when you listen to it, it’s like you’re listening to five different albums all at once crammed together.
Of the few standouts is the Lauren Jauregui team-up Strangers with it’s new-wave 80’s vibes and Hopeless another collaboration this time teaming up with Cashmere Cat. However, the great moments hidden within the album are overshadowed by the shallow and often cringe tracks that make up the majority of the album.
Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is a confusing journey of an album. Whilst I so wish that I could love this release I’m left unsatisfied and just honestly lost with what Halsey is laying down. I guess this album just isn’t for me.
HALSEY / HOPELESS FOUNTAIN KINGDOM via Astralwerks
Stream the album on Spotify here.