‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ Album Review


Courtesy of loveandpower.com

Halsey’s fourth studio album is titled “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power.” The concept album is about pregnancy and childbirth.

Kayla Ivan, Arts & Culture Manager

On Aug. 27, Halsey released their fourth studio album, “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power.” Produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the record is a stark contrast to their third album, “Manic,” (released in 2020) in terms of musical energy, with the former holding “psychedelic softness” according to Apple Music.

The album is risky and different for Halsey, with an “unsettling production” according to the artist.

When discussing the contents of the album, they described the experience as emotional and expressive, stating, “…it’s like an emptying of [their] emotional vault — ‘expressions of guilt or insecurity, stories of sexual promiscuity or self-destruction’ — and a coming to terms with who they have been before becoming responsible for someone else….”

As a new mother, they have and will experience all of the ups and downs of having a child depending on you, which is a major theme in the album’s lyrical content.

With 13 songs, the full-length album is an alternative, rock style that ranges from slow songs to power anthems, such as “I am not a woman, I’m a god,” that speaks to the life-changing realities of new motherhood and first time experiences with pregnancy.

The album is paired with an IMAX film of the same name, with gory images depicting the struggles of getting what we want, with Halsey battling internally with love and power.

Pitchfork described the record as having a “tight, internal focus… walking the line between self-preservation and self-destruction, control and compulsion, the thrill and terror of getting what we want…” even calling the record, “their best work yet.”

The record harbors a clear conflict; the natural realities of joy in motherhood versus the terror that comes with it, about losing a part of yourself for love.

The war between love and power is fought throughout the album, with the music production presenting these ideas in a chaotic sort of way.

The album earned the top debut spot during the week of its release on Spotify Global between Aug. 27-29. Billboard ranked it as having the Top Album Sales, #1 Alternative Album and #1 Vinyl Album.

While describing their inspiration for the content of the album, Halsey stated, “‘The reason that the album has sort of this horror theme is because this experience… has its horrors… [p]regnancy for some women is a dream — and for some people it’s a f**king nightmare.”

With autumn on the way, this album is a haunting experience of dissonance musically and lyrically, sounding at times like that of a nightmare. In the end, it seems they choose love.