OTwo Reviews - If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power by Halsey

Image Credit: Emma Lambkin

Halsey has been sitting on doing a dark record for some time now, judging by how much thought and precision went into If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. Their lyrical style is reminiscent of Manic and Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, the very long lines mending well with melodies, but the content of the lyrics dive deeper into their inner conscious that makes you ask, ‘Why have they sat on this intensity for so long?’ A beautifully made album with cinematic elements that compliment the movie they released titled If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power that described the horrors of pregnancy and childbirth. The cinematic aspect of this album is something that people don’t often realise how beautiful it is until they find it. The combination of this element with the dark, edgy tone with industrial and electronic mixing and production is, in my opinion, Halsey’s best work to date.

The edgy, dark tone is due to the production from duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, from Nine Inch Nails. Songs like ‘Easier than Lying’, ‘Lilith’, and ‘I am not a woman, I’m a god’ showcase the intense industrial influence with funky basslines and harsh, provocative sounds. ‘Easier than Lying’ showcases Halsey’s own love of punk music with thrashing guitars, fast drums and growling. That song is worth listening to on repeat. ‘Lilith’ makes one wonder if the industrial elements work with the bassline, but with the intense production and fusion from Reznor and Ross proves one wrong. ‘I am not a woman, I’m a god’ falls more into the funky bassline than anything else, but there are hints of hi-hats and metallic pieces throughout the song. It’s a beautiful fusion that has one both banging their head and wanting to move their hips. Don’t ask how it’s possible, it just is.

A  gentler Halsey is showcased on this album as well. While they show their dark side, Halsey’s origins still appear on the record. Songs like, ‘Darling’ and ‘Ya’burnee’ show the softer side. These songs are the most reminiscent of their previous records, which is a beautiful cohesion throughout their entire career. The softer songs on If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power are two beautiful songs dedicated to their partner and their newborn child. Soft melodies with a few pieces of industrial elements and gentle guitars. They strategically place the songs along the record, to give the listener a break from the heavy thrashing of guitars and intensely dark lyrics. It also serves as a reminder of how Halsey started and the music she made that led them to this record. 

Halsey explained on Instagram that the “album was a concept album about the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth". The cinematic nature of this album supports the statement that it is indeed a concept album, and the instrumentals express the horrors. In some opinions, concept albums are hard to come by and they’re hard to do right when one comes across them. With this record, it’s obvious that it was done incredibly well. The collaboration between Halsey, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross worked incredibly well in the records favour. However, Halsey’s lyrical capabilities are the star of the show, as they always are in her records. If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is truly the best piece of art that Halsey has created to date.