New Halsey album explores motherhood and feminism

After releasing their previous album Manic, starting the makeup line About Face and having a baby, Ashley Frangipane, commonly known by their stage name Halsey, has returned with a new album. “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” is equally as striking and alluring as the name suggests, complete with Halsey’s infamous nods to feminism, as well as new sweeping themes of childbirth and pregnancy.

The album starts off with the haunting organ music transposed behind eerie vocals in “The Tradition” and “Bells of Santa Fe,” which set the stage and atmosphere for the entire album, referencing motifs of femininity, impermanence of self and time, love and religion.
Religious references are frequent throughout the album, communicated through the organ music and lyrics, such as nods to “Faith” and “the Creator” in the faster paced “Easier than Lying.” The album then leads into “Lilith,” a Biblical name from the Old Testament associated with a woman who was said to be the first wife of Adam, who left him after he refused to accept their equality. The song is structurally and musically reminiscent of Halsey’s sophomore album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, and illustrates the double standards and struggles femininity faces in a patriarchal society, much like Lilith herself is said to have faced.
“Girl is a Gun” is likely my favorite song off the whole album, with Halsey’s sweeter, innocent sounding vocals juxtaposed with the feminine strength underlying the lyrics. There is a powerful independence in the song that aligns with the title of the album.

A couple other favorites of mine would be “Honey” and “Darling,” for their powerful, clear vocals. “Honey” encapsulates love with a fast, addicting beat that could not help but remind me of the wildness of Halsey’s first album, “Badlands.” “Darling,” on the other hand, is slower and more melodic. The lyrics are initially reminiscent of a typical love song, but upon further listening it is clear that the song is a lullaby for Halsey’s newborn, a promise to the baby.

Arguably, the most popular song off the album is “I’m not a woman, I’m a god,” with its strong title alluding back to the name of the album. The song does not disappoint, matching the feminine energy manifested by the rest of the album and Halsey’s vocals.

The album finishes with the melancholy song “Ya’aburnee,” titled after the Arabic phrase that translates to “you bury me.” The title implies the common wish to die before a loved one, which connects to the slow lyrics immortalizing love for both Halsey’s husband and their child. The song is the perfect finale to the album, complete with the sadder, yearning sound juxtaposed with the sweetness and innocence of the lyrics, as well as allowing the listener to feel as though Halsey has successfully distinguished their new sound and motifs.