MUSIC REVIEW: Halsey, "hopeless fountain kingdom" [PREVIEW]

I really quite enjoyed Halsey's first album, Badlands, when it dropped in summer 2015. It was an incredibly strong debut from a young artist whose lyrics combined intimate, breezy poetry with bruised vulnerability. Delivered in her husky, compelling voice, songs from Badlands like "Colors," "Strange Love," "Coming Down," and "Roman Holiday" are just great songs, period. Halsey's lyrics often deal with drug use and sexuality in fairly frank, unapologetic fashion, creating the persona of a messy, raw young adult finding her way in the world. If Taylor Swift is the so-called good girl of pop who knew you were trouble when you walked then, then Halsey, in contrast, would remind you that you knew she was trouble when she walked in--but you love every minute of it.
It is with disappointment, then, that I have to report that  hopeless fountain kingdom, Halsey's second full-length, represents a step backwards in terms of quality. In short, Halsey has for the most part abandoned the specificity that was key to her lyrical successes on Badlands. Where her Badlands lyrics had a consistent confessional quality, that same quality is intermittent at best on hopeless fountain kingdom. We've gone from the specific, honest (and thus more memorable) lines like "Do you remember the taste of my lips that night / I stole a bit of my mother's perfume? Cause I remember when my father put his fist through the wall / that separated the dining room" ("Roman Holiday") to the utterly generic "I don't wanna fight right now / Know you always right, now / Know I need you 'round with me / But nobody waitin' 'round with me" ("Now Or Never")...

You can read the rest of this review on PopMatters.