Ellie Goulding’s Fifth Studio Album Takes Her “Higher Than Heaven”
This month, pop superstar Ellie Goulding released Higher Than Heaven, her fifth studio album, on Interscope Records. This album draws listeners to the dance floor, chock full of experimental mixes and Goulding’s signature vocals. The album follows up Goulding’s success on her latest collaboration, “Miracle,” with Calvin Harris. With perspectives such as Greg Kurstin, Koz, and Jesse Shatkin, Goulding is ready for Higher Than Heaven to reach its peak.
The album opens with “Midnight Dreams,” which immediately draws the listener into the entire concept of the LP. Buoyant and seductive, this song relies on the synth and a strong baseline to set the magnetic tone. It is one of the album’s most upbeat songs, which is smart for the sake of grabbing attention and interest.
“Cure For Love” embraces one’s reclaiming of their own heart. Starting off, the song yearns, but quickly it takes that power back with moments of fearless candor. The instrumentals are snappier, bringing in the right lilt of attitude.
A star of the album is “By The End Of The Night.” It has a shining pulse, openhearted and wanting. It is the kind of song that sticks with the listener, because Goulding has put words to something that can be so hard to communicate: I can’t get enough of you.
“Like A Saviour” is the pinnacle of Goulding’s pop anthems. It is all about one feeling, captured in a moment to bring something out from within those who are feeling it. The notes of the chorus bump in tandem with the synth beneath it, and it is about fruitless to try not to dance.
“When I listen back to it I visualize myself floating, slowly downwards but never falling. I hope everyone takes something positive away from it – I want people to listen to this record and want to dance and fall in love with each other and themselves.”
“Love Goes On” begins with a light beat in order to shine upon Goulding’s vocals. It picks up right as her voice softens at the onslaught of the chorus. A perfect, swift balance is created, something that you want to tumble, as the song puts it, “on and on and on.”
The first of two collaborations on the album, “Easy Lover (feat. Big Sean)” is another standout tune. There is a clear purpose from the first note, and the chorus soars, unbelievably interactive and catchy. Big Sean’s voice complements Gouldings well, and the song’s quickness emphasizes the banter made between his verse and Ellie’s.
“High Than Heaven” is on brand with what is desired from a title track. It is equally parts catchy and warm, sexy and praising. On a different note, it is followed by “Let It Die,” a wonderful moment of electronic music to carry in a new feeling. Behind the punchline of the song, “let it die,” each word sang with its own personal punch. It is not a song about failure, but of acceptance, of moving forward.
“Waiting For It” tiptoes through itself, delicate with R&B influence. Similarly, it is followed by “Just For You,” which combines with the album’s honing in on the desire for one person. The rapid synth sucks the listener in, and keeps them satisfied with the tasteful timing between the lyrics and beat drops. It has a beautiful moment of instrumental fade to allow for focus on the lyrics.
“How Long” is purposeful because the sound moves in a manner reflective of the song’s plot movement. It has an airy intro, but a bit more of a swing to its hips once it gets going, calling out falsehoods of a relationship and wondering how long these cycles will continue. What is key is that at no place does Goulding call any conflictive feelings problematic or shameful. She feels unabashedly, she loves herself for them. “Temptation” does something similar. It is like a spinning record and hypnotizes with its slick repetition. It has fiery, devoted lines, communicated via joyous disco. Goulding stays consistent with “Intuition,” with the work of the synth. It dazzles with ascending and descending scales before finishing off with a tasteful spotlight on the bass guitar.
“Tastes Like You” seems to be a dreamlike moment on the album. There is a looming, rumbling presence beneath the fluff, though. Once the chorus hits, all fog is cleared up. The listener is met with techno and voice. The song is bittersweet in its subject matter, tasting someone versus the constant reminder of that flavor, met well by the changing light verses and deep chorus.
“Better Man” opens like a siren, treading water. It soon finds a more enunciated pulse, again flipping between two tones within one song. It plays with what was wanted versus what was got, eventually concluding that she herself is “the better man,” letting the two meet “soft as a shadow, strong as a drink.”
The album’s second collaboration, “All By Myself,” closes out the tracklist. Featuring Alok and Sigala, the instrumental togetherness of the song is present even if the subject matter is individuality. It displays the shared empowerment of self strength. This song represents her shift toward techno experimentation. It has a slightly more sophisticated tone than the pop tunes that partner alongside the techno songs on the album, but they share the thematic note of passionate dance music.
Named “her freest album yet” by Rolling Stones in a career-spanning Q&A with Tomás Mier, Higher Than Heaven perfectly captures where Goulding is at right now. This year, Goulding will embark on her “Higher Than Heaven European Tour,” which kicks off in Dublin on October 16th. US dates are to be determined. She is one of the most streamed female artists on Spotify, with over 8 billion streams, and she remains a long-standing activist and philanthropist. Earlier this year, Goulding also became a TIME100 Impact Award winner. Shortly after, she announced her ambassadorship with the WWF.
Keep up with Goulding’s golden journey and listen to Higher Than Heaven below.