After two delays to the initial release date, Ellie Goulding released her highly-anticipated fifth studio album, Higher Than Heaven Friday. It uses a more visual and aesthetic-based approach than we’ve seen from the artist before. 

When I heard Goulding would be releasing a new album, I was immediately intrigued. Although this only comes two years after her last album, it felt like several since I’d last heard her music. 

With hits such as “Lights” and “Outside” sometimes overshadowing her newer music, I was excited to see how this album might be unique. From hearing the opening song, I couldn’t quite tell if this album would stand out to me or not. 

While a large portion of her past work is lyrically introspective, this album is intentionally more relaxed. The opening track, “Midnight Dreams,” perfectly sets up what Goulding wanted the album to be. With the lyrics, “All I think about / You’re my energy / Feel you all around / Take me, let’s fly away / Midnight dreams,” mixed with a fun, electric beat, it’s clear she enjoyed recording these songs.

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The chorus also reflects the fun electro pop style she is most known for.

The second and third tracks, “Cure For Love” and “By The End Of The Night,” use production to build up to the chorus, adding a bit more complexity to what mostly seems like a very visual album. 

“Cure For Love” reflects on finally feeling like you aren’t obligated to be in a relationship as it says, “I don’t need a cure for love, I’m movin’ on / Given too much, didn’t get enough / Sick, but not broken-hearted tonight / I don’t need a cure for love, yeah, I’m the one.”

“By The End Of The Night,” my personal favorite, has a unique 80s inspired sound, making it a stand-out among the rest of the album. 

Although the simplified writing style makes for a more upbeat tone, it doesn’t always benefit the album. The further into the album you listen, the harder it becomes to differentiate some of the songs that aren’t in those beginning or ending spots. The eighth song, however, “Let It Die,” is another favorite of mine. Goulding is telling someone who is weak in a relationship to leave as she says, “When did you lose the light behind your eyes? / Tell me why when there’s no more tears to cry / And your holdin’ onto love for life / I think it’s time to let it die.”

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It combines classic pop production with Goulding’s edgier lyrics, which works to give this song a more distinctive sound than some of the others. 

The last song on the album, “All By Myself” with Alok and Sigala, is a perfect closing track to this album, and is slightly reminiscent of her dance music from 2012 to 2014. 

Overall, this album from Goulding is mostly what any listener would already expect. She sticks to her usual style of making music, while keeping the lyricism fairly lighthearted. 

Although I liked the album, I wish she had committed a bit more to deviating from her typical sound in certain songs. In the songs where she did, such as “By The End Of The Night,” it only benefited the album. songs such as “Easy Lover (feat. Big Sean),” and the title track “Higher Than Heaven” aren’t necessarily tracks I see myself coming back to as often. 

I still believe this album is an impressive return for Goulding and is much stronger than her last one. I’ll be curious to see what she does moving forward, but this album is a refreshing and fun take on her music.