Review: Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue

Ellie Goulding - "EG.0"

Brightest Blue is Ellie Goulding’s attempt to tell us exactly who she is.

In my preview of Brightest Blue through a review of EG.0, the accompanying EP (which she has since rightfully tacked “Sixteen” onto on streaming services), I wrote that “I sometimes think that Ellie Goulding didn’t know what to do with herself.” Over the next couple of days, interviews began to appear that supported this.

“I feel like I’ve never been able to explore who I am as a songwriter and as a pop artist. So that’s what [Brightest Blue] is,” she told London’s Evening Standard. In the Guardian, she talks of choosing Max Martin as a producer for 2015’s Delirium: “I need to commit to something. No one seems to know what I am. Maybe I don’t know who I am.”

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Review: Ellie Goulding – EG.0

Ellie Goulding - "EG.0"

Brightest Blue, the fourth album by British pop singer Ellie Goulding, out July 17th, has been five years in the making. She has described Blue as something that allows people “to immerse themselves into a world of hope despite everything being so bleak.” She says that it’s about “tear[ing] through your own demons” and “free[ing] yourself from toxic relationships.” 

This sounds exactly like the follow-up that her 2012 release Halcyon promised, though not the one that 2015’s Delirium delivered. Ellie described Halcyon as “very self-indulgent” and “the most honest record she’s ever written.” The album is a meshing of heart-wrenching storytelling and the moody electronic style that would be embodied by Billie Eilish a few years later. But Delirium went the opposite direction, embracing modern pop on the back of global number one “Love Me Like You Do.” 

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