Music Reviews

The Sky is the Limit for Ellie Goulding’s ‘Brightest Blue’

Taylor Swift may be trending in the news with Folklore, but Ellie Goulding’s Brightest Blue deserves your undivided attention. Finally releasing her first album in five years via Interscope and Polydor Records, Ellie Goulding’s highly anticipated Billboard UK No. 1 project exhibits aesthetic rejuvenation in a compelling manner. Reflecting on toxic relationships and past experiences through a newfound lens, Goulding takes her songwriting and power vocals up a notch, crafting her best LP to date.

Composed of thirteen diverse tracks with a bonus EP of five songs (titled “EG.0”), Brightest Blue showcases Goulding’s musical maturity while still remaining true to her roots. Rather than simply transporting listeners into her electronic pop universe like previous records, Goulding fearlessly shares her emotionally complex psyche over a versatile compilation of profound lyrics and strong instrumentation.

Since embarking on world tours for the sensational Delirium, the British songstress took a step back from the spotlight and media, making fans believe that she went MIA when in fact she just needed time to recollect herself and breathe after a decade of nonstop work. Repeatedly afraid to break down walls within her personal life, Goulding ultimately discovers harmony within herself.

From “Start (feat. serpentwithfeet)” to finish, Goulding empowers others to find strength from within and forgive instead of bleaching out exes. Disappointed in her unhealthy state of mind during her 20s, she willingly highlights fresh euphoria through closure. Currently married to art dealer Caspar Jopling, Goulding chooses to write about her backlog of experiences instead of her happily ever after, keeping her relationship separate from the music.

The 33-year-old musician’s control is effervescent, and her growth into womanhood inspires fans to seek their own “blue evolution,” Goulding’s form of enlightenment and inspiration for the title song “Brightest Blue.” Owning her ‘prodigal son’ mentality via rhythmic verses and electronic elation, the born-again singer-songwriter is proud of her joyous transformation.

Remaining on-brand with her unapologetic invigoration, she belts mezzo vocals over anthemic synths in “Love I’m Given” and “How Deep Is Too Deep,” both of which reveal her shifted perspective and new respect for herself. Goulding finally prioritizes her best interests over temporary satisfaction, and this music in particular provides a window into fake love and her perseverance.

An 80s nostalgic standout among Goulding’s beautifully-crafted track list, “Power” calls attention to sexual manipulation and f-boy nature. The uptempo bass-driven banger ironically communicates depressing themes of mainstream seduction and objectification glorified by social media and Hollywood culture. Due to Goulding’s growth from the toxic dating culture, though, she incorporates celebratory EDM in a feminist fashion.

Continuously displaying her musical versatility, Goulding manages to profusely exhibit soul in the R&B ridden “New Heights” as she begins to love herself more. “Ode to Myself” switches gears with simple guitar and poetic brevity, and “Wine Drunk” displays her stream-of-conscious thoughts via auto-tuned harmonic layers. “Tides” and “Bleach” are also well-produced, both hypnotic in significantly different ways. However, “Woman” and “Flux” unquestionably take home the cake for rawest songwriting.

Stripping down to acoustic piano and pure raspy vocals, Goulding expresses her most authentic self throughout these two tracks. From experiencing ongoing gender inequality in the music industry to repeatedly loving men for the wrong reasons, Goulding brilliantly channels her heartbreak into these emotional ballads. Her most profound lyrics include, “I’m done listening to another man’s music, so I’m leaving with another drink in my hand” and “I’m still in love with the idea of loving you.” Goulding’s fresh IDGAF persona and internal growth give her the courage to confront past anxiety, and her increased musicianship passionately speaks for itself.

While the “EG.0” bonus EP contains multiple fire radio hits (“Worry About Me,” “Slow Grenade,” “Close to Me,” “Hate Me”), Brightest Blue‘s main track list reveals Ellie Goulding’s true artistry and heroic comeback after years of struggling with her individual identity. Her newfound confidence shines throughout the entire LP, and Ellie Goulding once again redefines pop and EDM while ceaselessly shattering glass ceilings. Stream Brightest Blue on all digital platforms.

Featured image provided by Interscope and Polydor Records

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