Encapsulating everything Goulding is as an artist currently
Jordan White
10:41 16th July 2020

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Ellie Goulding last unleashed an LP at a time almost as terrifying as Covid-19 itself, where the concept of a ‘New Music Friday’ seemed wild in a world where Monday releases were normality and streaming platforms were still considered newbies and therefore obliged to social distancing rules, remaining at least two meters away from the table you’d find iTunes perched, bathing in their glory.

Delirium found Ellie floating in a catered-for-radio swimming pool: each track exceptionally crafted with such precision that solidifying a Top 10 was a given. In spite of ‘On My Mind’ doing just that, the rest fell short, resulting in the birth of an alter ego; the Ellie we’ve been acquainted with over the last two years.

“This side of me is confident, unforgiving, brave and fearless,” claiming songs sung by this character were intentionally for radio, something that EG.0 – side B to Brightest Blue – soaks itself in. From Lauv to Diplo, to blackbear, Juice WRLD and Swae Lee, EG.0 explores the beaucoup identities of the pop-star separating itself from Brightest Blue; the main body of work where we witness a return to form.

Muffled chants of a crowd wave in and out to introduce opener ‘Start’, a welcome back to our dear confidante Ellie who comes companioned with Serpentwithfeet for a melancholy number reminiscent of ‘Don’t Say A Word’, a chilling salute from sophomore effort Halcyon.

“Wearing your crown, it’s pulling me down, you just want the power.” Relationships consumed an unhealthy portion of Ellie’s twenties, often finding herself on the other end of mind games and superficiality. ‘Power’ explores power dynamics amid the toxicity and progresses forward into her reclamation of freedom.

Whilst ‘How Deep Is Too Deep’ holds sounds and atmospheric drops that could be stripped straight from a collection of deep cuts by BANKS, following track ‘Love I’m Given’ possesses a monumental chorus à la ‘Take Me To Church’ that refreshes our palette and diverts away from the pop-drop choruses we’ve been spoon-fed with Goulding’s prior releases.

Now, it’s been a while since we’ve been treated to a real tear-jerker from Ellie. ‘New Heights’ mirrors the delicacy of Halcyon with its layered vocal textures and sedative backing choir, followed by the purity of ‘Woman’ – “If I’m losing touch, if I love too much, I’ll just leave it up to chance, that’s just the woman I am.” As each new string enters the mix, a single tear exits the eye, and to everybody longing for the return of the whimsical pop-star from back in 2012, here she is, glowing.

Embedded within traditional waltzes and minimalist production on the record is ‘Tides’ and for just four minutes Ellie peeks her head around the corner, reassuring that she is still fully capable of filling a dance floor. It’s refreshing to hear cohesivity over Brightest Blue, leaving the majority of the “upbeat stuff” to do its job on EG.0 rather than distract from the message of being comfortable in your own skin and unapologetically owning it.

Title track ‘Brightest Blue’ ascends as the finale with transcendental strings, spiritual choirs and celestial choruses. “Don’t you worry about the future, cause this is the blue evolution, I finally see you’re my greatest revelation.”

There’s a lot to unravel on Brightest Blue, and assumedly a heftiness surrounding Ellie to present a body of work after half a decade. When others thought she had lost her Midas touch to crafting out-of-the-box, otherworldly pop music from back in her heyday, Brightest Blue presents itself to encapsulate everything Ellie is as an artist currently, and the artist she will live on to be.

Brightest Blue is released on 17 July 2020 via Polydor.

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