By Josh Schonfeld

After slowly building momentum with sleeper hits such as “Lights,” “Burn,” and “I Need Your Love,” British popstar, Ellie Goulding, finally cashed in all her favors with the mega-successful “Love Me Like You Do” from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack.  After getting one of the biggest hits of the year with this epic power ballad, Goulding has not let up, giving us her best album yet.  Delirium tells the tale of euphoria in love, friendship, and life in general through pulsing vocal layering and unpredictable 90s-influenced instrumentation.

Delirium picks up where her last album, Halcyon, left off, with ethereal vocals and a foreboding beat as the intro melts into “Aftertaste,” a light at the end of the tunnel with its upbeat and childlike production.  This album focuses on positivity and self-confidence, a welcome change from the haunting tracks of Halcyon.  Tracks like “Something in the Way You Move,” and “Don’t Need Nobody” speak of the thrills of love while “Codes” and “Don’t Panic” delve into the anxiety and uncertainty found in new relationships.  “Army” and “Lost and Found” describe another type of delirium in life: the bond between two friends, which is an underrated and overlooked theme in pop music.

“Codes,” possibly the best song on the album, describes the power of communication, both verbal and physical, in a relationship.  The funky flow of the vocals and drum machine beat drive headfirst into a perfect sing-along chorus.  One lyric that should speak to any anxious person in a relationship: “So it’s no surprise, everything you do, I overanalyze.”  “Don’t Need Nobody” is the clear frontrunner to succeed “On My Mind” as a single and it’s because of the confidence oozing from every line.  It’s one of the only dark songs on the album and it comes as a breath of fresh air after the group of joyful and upbeat tracks that come before it.  The conveyor belt backing track forces you to dance as you sing the great line, “So many bodies I’ve touched, crashing around me like dust.  You are the realest thing I’ve never had to fake.”

Arguably the most jarring track would be “I Do What I Love,” an odd Arabian Fiddler on the Roof-type declaration of independence.  While it’s a menagerie of disorienting sounds that keeps you guessing at every phrase, it has that hot mess quality that is perfect for pre-gaming in Dubai.  It also has incredibly quotable lyrics such as, “But I gotta move on, baby cuz bitches gotta eat, gotta get back to work” and “If you’re cryin’ ‘bout your lover, cuz your lover is a dick, this will get you over it.”

Delirium is a courageous charge into the mainstream for Goulding without losing her experimental sound.  The British singer has finally broken down the door and showcased who she is as an artist while still keeping her street cred.  Maybe it’s her friendship with fellow popstar, Taylor Swift, rubbing off on her, or just a case of maturing; whatever it is, Goulding has created a unique brand that is set to take over the world in 2016.

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