Ellie Goulding’s third album, Delirium, is a clear departure from her previous indie style — and an unwelcome one at that.
The electronic pop star found her niche with her 2012 record, Halcyon, a confident step forward for the star’s developing artistic identity. Goulding seemed indecisive about her musical identity but approached each song with confidence, honing both her contemporary soul style and new blues influence.
Goulding’s next musical move was unclear, but her general style felt secure. However, Goulding’s new LP, Delirium, released Friday, takes an unexpected turn, attempting to forge hit after hit with tired pop formulas and poor execution.
Some of the most famous names in pop music riddle the liner notes of Delirium, including Swedish writers Max Martin and Ilya Salmanzadeh, who helped write hits for everyone from the Backstreet Boys to Britney Spears.
Although their contributions aren’t necessarily an issue, Goulding’s reliance on other producers and songwriters essentially removes her soulful personality from each song. Martin and others set an obviously mediocre standard with the entire project rarely deviating for an actual humanized moment.
After an intriguing album introduction, Delirium quickly dives into the typical punchy beats and auto-tune commonly associated with modern pop music. There’s no distinguishing characteristic in this album that could define it as an Ellie Goulding record — these songs could have been sung by anyone from Beyoncé to Katy Perry.
The worst parts of each song are the horribly generic lyrics. At the beginning of Delirium’s fourth track, “Keep on Dancin’,” Goulding sings, “People like to talk/because they don’t know what to say,/Running from the truth because the truth’s too much to take” and continues to sing about how much she drinks and stays in the moment. Not only are these lines extremely broad, but Goulding sings them with uncertainty and a lack of genuine emotion.
Goulding took another misstep by not only releasing a standard album but also a redundant deluxe version. While the standard version already runs too long at slightly over an hour, the 23-track deluxe version proves she chose quantity over quality.
The length of this album is, in a way, symbolic of its overall merit — it’s more of an unrelated collection of prescribed synths and generic lyrics than a cohesive piece of music with significant influences.
Whatever direction Goulding was heading before this album, she’s made an about-face and is running toward fake pop stardom. Goulding seems to be becoming someone she truly isn’t, resulting in an album that lacks any defining characteristics.