This. Is. Long. Seriously, it may have been a couple of years since 2013’s rebundled ‘Halycon Days’, but does that mean Goulding has to include every song she’s written since on this new album? The standard version of ‘Delirium’ is sixteen songs long. The deluxe takes things up to twenty two. The Target version extends to twenty five. And that’s before the inevitable rebundle next year or whenever that probably doubles the track list.
The thing is, even with such a long list of songs, ‘Delirium’ is really quite enjoyable. It’s perfectly reasonable that after listening for five hours and realising you’re still only half way through, you hadn’t really noticed the time going by as you sit back and enjoy the bangers. There isn’t a bad song here. There just aren’t many great ones either. And that's not necessarily value for money.
What’s also remarkable is that either Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, Ryan Tedder or Savan Kotecha appear on almost every track in either songwriting or production capacity. In short, that means Goulding has worked with the globe’s top pop talent, as if she’s taken all their scraps and put them together in one album. Of course, Goulding herself has co-written the majority of tracks. But where the present talent ensures a certain base level of quality, the album never rises above this.
Gone are the folky guitars of debut ‘Lights’ (remember them?). Gone are the experimental electronics and dub-step wobbles of ‘Halcyon’. Instead, we’re left with endless EDM pop that pretty much all sounds the same. It’s streamlined, distilling Goulding’s sound into a 2015 palette through the filter of the songwriters and producers responsible for so much other music that’s currently popular. ‘Delirium’ does nothing to experiment, to expand her audience, to prove to naysayers that she’s more than a pop artist with a squeaky voice.
Just as it’s hard to pick a worst song (though Keep On Dancin’s incessant whistling is incredibly annoying), it’s hard to pick out a favourite. So few of the songs stand out above the crowd. You’ll recognise a handful of tracks released in the run up to the full album: the throbbing Something In The Way You Move; X-Factor-esque ballad Army; and Ed Sheeran diss single On My Mind that thankfully brings something a little different. You’ll also recognise Fifty Shades slow burner Love Me Like You Do and 2014’s single with Calvin Harris Outside. The remains of the album may be new but already sounds oh so familiar. Lost and Found is at least reminiscent of early Goulding, and Devotion puts a donk on the familiar.
A fair amount of trimming and a dash of originality could’ve raised this to 2015 pop highlight. Instead, ‘Delirium’ is distinctly middle of the road and will leave you feeling quite the opposite of its namesake.
* On My Mind
* Lost and Found
Listen: ‘Delirium’ is available now.