It’s a straight up masterpiece.
If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is about the joys and horrors of pregnancy, maternity and sexuality. Halsey and her tight-knight group of collaborators paint this multilayered story vividly from start to finish. If Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner are a holy trinity of musicians (see: folklore), then Halsey, Trent and Atticus are their dark counterparts.
Seriously, their chemistry is off the charts.
Each track is so perfectly instrumented. The production doesn’t just feel meticulously placed; it is effortless. Skewing towards industrial pop and rock, punk and grunge, the songs fit together seamlessly — embodying their own sounds and genres without ever feeling disjointed.
The opening trio of songs is a fantastic example of this. Starting with the harrowing, borderline terrifying piano ballad “The Tradition,” the simple production transitions into the chilling slow burn “Bells in Santa Fe.” Throughout this track, there is this impending sense of doom, as the prickly synths build and build.
Then, at the last second, it abruptly switches into the urgent hi-hat that kicks off Halsey’s best song to date, “Easier than Lying.” This fiery, industrial rock banger is cathartic. Adding the layers, each verse and chorus gets more infectious and angry. Fit with her roaring vocals and cutting lyrics, it releases the growing catharsis of the past two tracks powerfully.
The album’s mastery just doesn’t stop there.
“Darling” is a golden, heartwarming acoustic lullaby to her (then) child-to-be. “The Lighthouse” holds the grungiest, most dirty production on the project, fit with lyrical imagery of a siren luring sailors as an allegory for mistreatment.
On the pop-punk, sapphic banger, “Honey,” Halsey details a wild love that left a deep impact on her heart. Quickly followed up by the haunting “Whispers,” which vividly chronicles her impulses of self-sabotage and fear — brilliantly produced, it details a universal feeling while still feeling like a chapter in the story.
If I Can’t Have Love demonstrates that Halsey has honed their lyrics to a tee. Often, their words unfold effortlessly.
Where this LP does its best is in its intimate moments, and I think no track embodies this better than “1121” (the day they found out they were pregnant with their son). Probably their most heartbreaking track, it chronicles the fears Halsey has about losing their child to a miscarriage — something they have experienced multiple times before. It touches something deep in the soul.
Deeply personal, immaculately produced, lyrically enthralling, "If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power," is wall-to-wall enchantment. I hope that I did it justice in this review. Know that — even putting fandom aside — there is no album to come out this year worth recommending more.
This is my album of the year. Period.
Favorite Tracks: All of them.