Halsey's latest album If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power (IICHLIWP) is finally here in all its glory, and it could be one of the singer-songwriter's best to date.
IICHLIWP is Halsey's fourth studio album, and as usual with all of Halsey's releases, it certainly takes a different turn from her previous records. Halsey took a different route than usual for the promotion of this album, with a film inspired by the album released in certain IMAX cinemas across the world, and even more, interestingly, didn't release any singles. This may have been a wise choice for Halsey because after listening to the album, it definitely works best as a coherent piece rather than as individual tracks. It goes without saying that when listening to this album, you should absolutely listen in the order the tracks are placed on the album
Although I haven't had the chance to watch the movie, because of the use of the album as a storytelling vessel, I imagine the tracks work really well in the context of the film.
IICHLIWP is a deep dark look into not just love and power, but specifically bodily autonomy and motherhood: two themes that don't often find their place in mainstream music. Halsey said, when introducing the album on Instagram, that it's about "The idea that me as a sexual being and my body as a vessel and gift to my child are two concepts that can co-exist peacefully and powerfully". Halsey is using their own recent experiences to pull together the themes and messages for this album, and you can tell it is incredibly personal to them, which makes it worthwhile.
The album opens with 'The Tradition' which features lyrics like "Oh, the loneliеst girl in town / Was bought for plenty a price /Well, they dress her up in golden crowns" simultaneously feels like a story being told that's both fictional and autobiographical which continues throughout IICHLIWP as
Because of the lack of promotion and the concept of the album, it also feels like this is far from a money grab from the singer, and that she is genuinely making this album because she wants to express these feelings and feels like it is important to do so.
Throughout the album, we see Halsey's classic haunting mix of pop, electro, and rock music, but we see them experimenting with it in different ways. Although, as you can imagine from previous comments, the storytelling on this album really is great, it's the production that really makes IICHLIWP the stand-out it is. The production builds tension and emphasizes the anger, sadness, and beauty of the lyrics it is working with. This is unsurprising, however, as two of the producers on the album are Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who work more on film scores than pop music; this certainly explains the cinematic feel of the album. 'Bells in Santa Fe' and '1121' act as really exceptional examples of the impact Reznor and Ross have on the album, with their atmospheric and intense feel.
Overall, If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power is a clear statement from Halsey that can be difficult to stomach at points. Although sonically, it's not starkly different from any other releases, it does take a slightly different direction and shows that Halsey knows how to match the lyrical theme to production and type of experimentation. This isn't the type of album where you'll see singles climbing up the charts, or trending on TikTok, but it is an important album both to Halsey themselves and possibly to music right now generally.