Just as Delirium’s symphonic intro suggests, Ellie Goulding’s third studio album will be a success for the synthpop singer, with unexpectedly unconventional beats and catchy choruses to match them.

The 28-year-old London native, most commonly noted for her ingenious “1 part EDM, 1 part pop” recipes, set aside her EDM roots for this installment—embracing more pop-friendly beats than pasts hits like “Burn” and “Lights.”  Goulding boasts a sound manufactured for a successful pop album and it’s a move not-so-accidental, considering Goulding told fans Delirium was an “experiment to make a big pop album” in an album press release.

With the exception of Lady Gaga’s “Cheek to Cheek” collaboration with Tony Bennett, we haven’t seen many artists take the ever-so-risky move of shifting genres mid-career, well, at least unintentionally, that is.  Before the album’s release, Goulding admitted the record was a definite vehicle for rising to another level of stardom—which leaves us all wondering if Delirium was a successful tool in Goulding’s rise to more No. 1 singles and a heightened fan base.

Overall, Delirium establishes itself as a successful pop album “experiment” for Goulding, with an underlying flare of Goulding’s signature, and now dulled-down, beats.  Unfortunately, it does little to rise above the recent, heavy flow of pop music—such as Selena Gomez’s seductive “Same Old Love” and Ariana Grande’s expectedly sassy “Focus.”  Goulding’s competing in a realm of pop-savvy artists and has a trademark sound that sets her apart; she’s got all the ammunition for a handful of successful pop singles on Delirium, if used efficiently.

The record’s first single “Love Me Like You Do” has been arguably one of the most overplayed tracks of the year, but it’s hard to tell if we have Goulding or Sam-Taylor Johnson to thank for that.  The track—which served as the background to every uncomfortable “Fifty Shades of Grey” advertisement—claimed a No. 1 spot on the Billboard Charts, most likely due to the film’s successful advertising.  And so, we didn’t see “Love Me Like You Do” contribute to anything other than the gross profit of the E.L. James adaptation.

Delirium’s lead single, “On My Mind,” is a true testament to Goulding’s approach for the album—with a head-bobbing beat and a chorus easily memorized after a single listen.  It’s accompanying music video, lined in pop-music sentiments of heartbreak, payback and triumph is yet another reinforcement in Goulding’s pop transformation.

The record’s second single, “Something In the Way You Move,” sounds a lot like a “Love Me Like You Do” sister-track, giving fans a taste all-to-familiar.

Luckily, Goulding served up another intentionally repetitious track, “Aftertaste.”  The album’s lead track, is the best contender for a third single off the record and, much like “Codes,” leaves us with an aftertaste much less twisted than “Love Me Like You Do” and dull as “Something In the Way You Move.”  “Aftertaste”—which speaks of failed love leaving lingering memories behind—stays repetitious enough for a sing-along, but dishes lyrically captivating verses, full of uplifting beats; in short, it’s a pop masterpiece.

While it isn’t likely that Delirium will win any major awards, it’s a definite first step in Goulding’s assimilation into the competitive pop music genre.  At the end of it all, Delirium, named after a state of total confusion, provides a clearly straightforward incentive: catchy songs with enlivening beats—and isn’t that what pop’s all about?

Liam McGurl

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