By Kyle Kramer
RedEye special contributor
9:41 AM CDT, October 8, 2012
**1/2 (out of four)
Hopefully you like Ellie Goulding. In the coming months you're likely going to see a lot of commercials that use music from her new album “Halcyon.”
Goulding makes music that scans as “cool” in a generic way: slightly moody synth-pop with nods to trends in electronic music. She falls in an odd middle ground as a sort-of pop star with artsy “indie” vibes, in the same vein as Lana Del Rey or Florence + the Machine (both of whom Goulding also resembles musically). Consider the story of her hit “Lights,” which spent nearly two years quietly working its way from fringe favorite to the No. 2 song on Billboard's Hot 100. If the staccato synth bursts and “ooh ooh ooh ooh” chorus of her latest single “Anything Could Happen” aren't soundtracking shots of an Audi driving through the desert by the end of the year, somebody is definitely slacking off at their job.
The cash-in appeal of this music is a shame, though, because “Halcyon” is a breakup album, and it has more heart to it than any car commercial deserves. At its most fragile, particularly on opener “Don't Say a Word” as well as late-album highlights “Atlantis” and “Dead in the Water,” stark atmospherics manage to prompt chills and a sense of triumph. Goulding's voice can shift to an annoying warble, and some of the album's production can be wince-inducing, but at its best “Halcyon” makes a decent sales pitch of its own: pop for indie fans, indie for electronic fans and electronic for pop fans.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic
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