Appearing on The Chainsmokers’ 2016 mega-hit ‘Closer’ has had a big impact on Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, AKA Halsey. Her 2015 debut ‘Badlands’ made her a cult popstar. ‘Closer’ made her a household name.
In truth, ‘Closer’ has a trace of blandness Halsey stampedes past when working on her own. ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’ gets by on a universal quality, but there’s a personal touch you don’t find on everyday pop full-lengths. It’s a break-up album, placed in the context of a Romeo And Juliet-inspired world. The record even begins with the prologue to the Shakespearean tragedy, while the video for ‘Now Or Never’ is like her own take on Baz Luhrmann’s iconic 1996 film.
On ‘Sorry’ she admits to treating “the people that I love like jewellery” over heart-wrenching pianos. “I didn’t mean to try you on,” she sings. ‘Good Mourning’ gives Rihanna-gone-sci-fi-vibes, while ‘Bad At Love’ recalls the singer’s past relationships.
‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’ might be defiantly ambitious, but it’s surprisingly cohesive. Even cameos from Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui and Migos’ Quavo, and co-writes from Sia and Greg Kurstin can’t derail the feeling this is 100 per cent her own output.
The only time a guest threatens to overshadow her is on ‘Eyes Closed’, co-written by The Weeknd and drenched in his brooding R&B signature. But it’s far from the best song on the record, proving Halsey’s fast moving from cult hero to global superstar.