Ellie Goulding – Higher than Heaven
Winner of 30 music awards, with 70 nominations, indie pop singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding rose to stardom in her early 20s and has made history as the British female solo act with most entries in the UK: a total of 35. Higher than Heaven is the artist’s fifth studio album and is, by her own admission, less personal and reflective than Brightest Blue (2020). With buoyant, innovative electronic rhythms and euphonious multi-layered vocals, the tracks soar with sweeping exuberance.
Midnight Dreams launches the record with immediate explosive energy and a dynamic synth-based 90s vibe, followed by Cure for Love. With its deep keyboard and enraptured funk lead by Goulding’s powerful soprano voice, the song is irrepressibly danceable.
Another great dance tune, By the End of the Night features gorgeous singing by the artist and music with rich, rounded notes, a faint, echoing chorus and violin-like background tones – a mellifluous dreaminess combined with a driving vitality. Like a Saviour’s brief, surreal intro hints of the Far East before Goulding’s animated vocals accompany a strong drumbeat and a vigorous tempo.
Love Goes On’s celestial opening synth morphs into a fast-paced romantic ballad with the singer’s melodious soul-pop and beautiful mixed vocals. A lively electro-rock and hiphop duet with rapper Big Sean, Easy Lover is one of the album’s highlights. The disco-influenced title track, with powerful drumbeat, strong bass guitar and ethereal chorus, spotlights Goulding’s impressive abilities. Echoing the star’s Halcyon era, with a hint of the 80s, Let It Die merges dark, mercurial sounds with sparkling rhapsody.
Brightest Blue is recalled with Waiting for It, with a mysterious muffled prelude that becomes clearer, revealing overlapping, doubling and voice layering – a compelling RnB and soul compilation. After a gentle intro, Just 4 You evolves with expansive synth and an enraptured beat that conjures travelling at speed over sweeping vistas. Completing the album, How Long’s innovative, eccentric lead-in has a touch of French New Wave, progressing to a 60s style and synth-pop merge. With smouldering drumbeat and bass, expressive vocals and smooth instrumentals, the track is upbeat but wistful.
Ellie Goulding describes her latest LP as less intimate than her previous work, but relationship longings and struggles are its primary motif; by her description, the theme is “being passionately in love, but it’s a hyper form of love, almost like a drug-induced feeling”. Born of the artist’s reaction to the pandemic, the record’s euphoria is tempered by trepidation about romantic ardour: “there’s the potential for a crash”.
The composition, instrumentals and vocals here are outstanding, and there is an overall spontaneity and freshness. Another remarkable achievement by Goulding, as a whole, Higher than Heaven is positive and energising, signalling a hope that, after three years of anxiety, we might allow ourselves to enjoy life and dance.
Higher than Heaven is released on 7th April 2023. For further information or to order the album visit Ellie Goulding’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Like a Saviour here: