When people listen to UK songstress Ellie Goulding, people are generally divided on what they hear: they either hear her folk and indie influences as her sonic center and others hear her Electronica roots and push her into the larger category of Pop. With “Delirium,” the difference is not apparent at all, Delirium is blatant Electro-Pop.
From the swirling guitars of On My Mind, to the Urban tinged Don’t Need Nobody, Delirium delivers mid and up-tempos track after track, never stopping for a ballad-like her previous albums have (the last half of “Halcyon” or The Writer on “Lights”). The result is an album that to its modern audience will scream Taylor Swift’s “1989,” while to a broader and older audience, it will sound completely millennial.
The main difference between Delirium and previous pure-pop offerings this past year from Carly Rae Jepsen and Taylor Swift, is that there is no breathing room. From the moment Aftertaste hits its stride, the audience is locked in for a roller coaster ride of strict tempos. While most artists would struggle to keep up with this pace, Goulding does so with the expertise of a near-pro, only stumbling on the forgettable and rather lifeless We Can’t Move to This and Holding on For Life. Midtempo power ballads like the mega-hit Love Me Like You Do and Army offer some release – and standout amongst an album of bangers – but don’t offer enough to quench the hunger for ballads like Halcyon Days’ I Know You Care and How Long Will I Love You. This is perhaps Delirium’s biggest fault, that it lacks lyrical and sonic beauty that can be found on Goulding’s prior works.
While the album is factory pressed with singles ready to launch on to Top 40 radios with ease, there is something strictly Goulding about much of the album, especially the latter half: While Swift’s comparable aforementioned work relied on the strength of drums and synths, Goulding sneaks in the sound that made her a star: a twinkling acoustic guitar. In the intro of second single Army, and the chorus of the retro standout Devotion, she establishes herself with her audience that she understands her place in Pop music, and that she brings something new to the table with a unique sonic palette.
Goulding has called Delirium an “experiment” in interviews leading up to the release of the album. In some regards, the album is an experiment: she has enough on the album that there is something for everyone; she got lucky in that so many of the tracks hit the bullseye. However, Delirium seems more fine-tuned than a mere experiment; yes, the deluxe tracks are about as useful as your wisdom teeth, but the standard edition tracks are all carefully crafted to allow Goulding to fully submerge herself in glowing-Pop goodness.