Illustration by Nicole Frazer

Review: 'Manic' offers look into Halsey's third face

Album: "Manic" by Halsey

Release Date: Jan. 17, 2020 

Run time: 48 minutes 

Genre: Alternative/Indie

Label: Capitol Records

Rating: A-

“There is an ancient saying. You have three faces: the first one you broadcast to the world, the second you show to those closest to you and the last one you never show to anyone,” Halsey writes in "Halsey Presents Manic." 

This is how Halsey introduces and sets the tone for "Manic." 

Halsey offers listeners a look into her "third face" with her third studio album, following "BADLANDS" (2015) and "hopeless fountain kingdom" (2017).

"Manic" is full of self-realization, female rage, confidence and self-love. With so many emotions packed into one album, it’s only fitting to weave in multiple genres as well. While her album is classified as alternative or indie, Halsey fills it with modern pop, electro-pop and even some country pop. To help with her genre exploration, Halsey features diverse artists on "Manic" such as Dominic Fike, BTS, SUGA and Alanis Morissette.

The album opens up with “Ashley,” which is a reference to Halsey’s birth name, Ashley Frangipane, and what Halsey describes as her second face. With the lyrics “I’m bursting out of myself,” Halsey sets the mood for the rest of the album, concentrating on the fact that she is transitioning from one phase of her life, or one of her three faces, to another. 

Revenge and female rage come out in the album's sixth track, “Killing Boys.” This song transforms Halsey’s anger into self-respect, demonstrated by lyrics such as “I'm not breakin', I won't take it and I won't ever feel this way again.” 

Although her self-respect is empowering and admirable, Halsey fits the crazy ex-girlfriend stereotype in this song by happily singing about keying Ferraris and breaking glass windows after a bad breakup. 

Perhaps this is the stereotype Halsey was trying to portray, considering the album's title, but regardless, it’s a lower image that is not a good look for the artist.

She makes up for this with “Still Learning.” In this song, Halsey comes to the realization that she is not where she thought she would be at this point in her life, but she is learning to love herself. This title sends a hopeful message and shows Halsey’s third face as confident and self-forgiving.

“Finally // beautiful stranger” and “SUGA’S Interlude” are refreshing twists to the usual pop music heard on the radio. “Finally// beautiful stranger,” a slow song with background instruments that hint at a country influence, is contrasted with “SUGA’S Interlude,” which contributes some K-pop and Korean rap.

The diversity and originality of this mix is likely to bring in fans who normally wouldn't listen to Halsey. 

Halsey’s newest album brings something different and authentic to pop culture. Although there are questionable references to a negative stereotype of women, "Manic" is still centered around self-love and confidence through realization. 


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