Themes of self-discovery, hurt and healing fill the songs of Manic, the latest album by 25-year-old Ashley Frangipane, better known as Halsey. The tracks are full of Halsey’s distinct Indie vocals, and combine personal experiences with storytelling, per Halsey’s classic style.
On Manic, Halsey is anything but shy, opening up about experiences, good and bad, that have shaped her into the person and star she is today.
Songs like “You Should Be Sad”, “Without Me” and “Graveyard” hint to Halsey’s history of apparently emotionally abusive relationships.
On her track, “Graveyard,” Halsey sings “Oh, ‘cause I keep diggin’ myself down deeper // I won’t stop ‘til I get where you are /…/ I would’ve followed all the way to the graveyard.”
“Without Me,” which ended up being Halsey’s most successful single to date, she sings, “Put you right back on your feet // Just so you can take advantage of me.” These lyrics tell a story of how messed up people and relationships can affect our judgement and dig us into a deep, deep hole that can be very hard to climb out of.
Halsey’s struggles with mental health and bipolar disorder are captured in tracks like “Ashley,” “3am” and “Clementine.”
“Ashley” talks about being stuck in a vision for life that wasn’t hers. It ends with a vocal voiceover where Halsey says, “But I’m just a…girl // Who’s looking for my own peace of mind // Don’t assign me yours.”
“3am” talks about how physical relationships have always left her feeling alone, and how “digital” relationships are the ones that gratify. Halsey sings, “Cause it’s 3am // And I’m calling everybody that I know // And here we go again // While I’m running through the numbers in my phone,” and the rest of the chorus describes what a digital relationship looks like at 3 a.m.
“Clementine” unpacks some of Halsey’s struggles with bipolar disorder, and she sings, “Because in my world, I’m constantly, constantly havin’ a breakthrough (hmm) // Or a breakdown, or a blackout.”
On her song “I HATE EVERYBODY,” Halsey talks about how her self-esteem is often shaped by the opinions of the people around her. She sings, “If I could make you love me // Maybe you could make me love me // And if I can’t make you love me // Then I’ll just hate everybody.”
In the songs “Finally // beautiful stranger,” “Still Learning” and “929,” Halsey sings about learning to love herself, accepting her past and learning that moving on can be beautiful. On “929,” Halsey sings, “That I wasn’t in love then, and I’m still not now // And I’m so happy I figured that out.”
The theme and central line of “Still Learning” is, “I’m still learning to love myself.” Through bipolar disorder, abandonment, break-ups and all the other struggles she sings about, Halsey seems to be taking some solid steps towards moving on.
Manic features additional artists in the songs “Dominic’s interlude,” featuring Dominic Fike; “SUGA’S interlude,” featuring Suga and BTS; and “Alanis’ interlude,” featuring Alanis Morissette. “Alanis’ Interlude” solidifies Halsey’s bisexual status, talking about sexuality and gender fluidity.
There are a few clear standouts on this album. Songs like “Graveyard,” “Finally // beautiful stranger” and “Without me” are tunes that will undoubtedly end up stuck in your head.
However, there are a few instances of explicit language in half the songs in this album, and some of the rest of the songs seemed to blend together into a sea of forgettable lyrics. This album highlights some real and relatable issues for our generation, however I don’t think it is one that I will be returning to frequently.