"Higher Than Heaven," Ellie Goulding

"Higher Than Heaven," Ellie Goulding ()

Word has it that Ellie Goulding had one goal in mind when she crafted “Higher Than Heaven” over the last three years: Make a bunch of songs that get people to dance. Spend only a cursory listen to these 11 songs, released April 7, and you’ll quickly realize her mission was more than accomplished. Not only is this a collection of songs made for nightclub floors, colorful lights and memories that anyone past the age of 25 really has no business making anymore; it’s also perhaps the best, most consistent set of Goulding’s increasingly impressive career.

While the singer has said this is her least personal album, it also turns out to be the one where she has the most fun, tracks driven by drum machines and synthesizers underneath Goulding’s sneaky-unique pop vocals that almost accidentally invite all who listen to sing along. Oddly enough, those moments aren’t most commonly found on the set’s singles. “Easy Lover,” her half-hit collab with Big Sean, reaches for all the right notes when it comes to what people expect from a Top 40 song these days, but it comes up only slightly short on account of predictability. Ditto for “Like A Saviour,” which is the closest Goulding gets to going through the motions.

Thankfully, that’s not the predominant vibe elsewhere on the album. In fact, the opening duo of “Midnight Dreams” and “Cure For Love” might just be the best one-two punch in Goulding’s catalog. The former wastes no time setting the tone for a batch of tracks made specifically for hot nights and dance floors while the latter is a blast of a kiss-off that features the singer asserting “I’ll be my medicine / Know I’ll be better alone.” It proves that sometimes, the best medication anyone might need is a backbeat, some moody keyboards and a gaggle of bright harmonies.

And if that’s the case, “Higher Than Heaven” will be saving lives 36 minutes and 42 seconds at a time. There isn’t really a miss here, even if some songs work better than others. The title track keeps the energy up all while professing a love that feels both inspiring and addicting. “Let It Die” serves as motivational ear candy that amounts to a bag of only red Starbursts. And “By The End Of The Night” recalls The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” with its up-tempo ‘80s pop-rock ethos and undeniable hook.

“Undeniable” is probably the most apt word for this set. Five albums in, Ellie Goulding has proven herself as a force in the pop world – one with enough credibility to invite the snobs to the party all while showcasing an accessibility that’s worth drawing in even the most peripheral pop music fan. “Here’s to being lonely,” she proclaims on the inescapable “Cure For Love.” Who needs anyone when there’s music like this to keep you company?

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