The pop landscape can be disorientating, but on Manic, Halsey’s third studio album, she works effortlessly to control that pressure from within.
The title is a reflection of her feelings about the loneliness and euphoria fame brings, while also accurately representing the album’s overall sound, which, according to a recent interview with Rolling Stone, is “literally just, like, whatever the fuck I felt like making.”
Manic is far from cohesive, but that’s likely the point. It still brings whiplash when you go from a bitter, country-tinged bop about a toxic relationship (“You should be sad”), to an Avril Lavigne-inspired angsty pop-rock song (the undeniably fun “3am”), followed by a smooth hip-hop track featuring Korean rapper SUGA of boyband BTS (“SUGA’s Interlude”).
Halsey deserves credit for her ability to jump in and adapt to multiple genres within the pop spectrum. And most of the time, it surprisingly works.
Missteps do occur, such as a bizarre and oddly produced collaboration with Alanis Morissette (“Alanis’ Interlude”). But the woman who the world once knew as Ashley Frangipane’s earnestness shines through, especially on the refreshingly honest closing track, “929,” complementing her smoky vocals with confessional lyrics.
Pop music may be in a state of disarray, but it’s nice that Halsey is out there working hard to evolve, adapt and bare it all.