FIRST THOUGHTS: Ellie Goulding – Higher Than Heaven

You may have seen the headlines floating online this week about how Ellie Goulding stated her new album is her “least personal” to date, and even joked that some of the lyrics were AI generated. Some found it really endearing and honest for her to say it wasn’t as deep as her previous records, and others had strong opinions how it was simply a cash-grab or a bid to stay relevant. But sometimes we honestly just need a good album to dance to, feel empowered to, and have an escapism to, and that is exactly what “Higher Than Heaven” is. 

This body of work is a return to the “Delirium” era, where she experimented with the more pop leaning side of her artistry, and in-turn she’s given us a collection of euphoric and empowering tracks that genuinely had me ascending while listening. From the first track right through to the final track on the deluxe, the British singer-songwriter will have you dancing, smiling, and feeling liberated. You won’t find any ballads or tear jerking moments on this record as it’s all about finding that inner euphoria. Hopefully you can embrace that while listening as this is a truly a joyous record, that is honestly one of her best yet. 

So upon the first listen, here is a track by track first thoughts on the deluxe edition of “Higher Than Heaven”…

  1. Midnight Dreams

Opening with dark and brooding synths, “Midnight Dreams” is a slow burner that then explodes with a 80’s inspired synth production in the chorus. It’s the type of song that you would’ve found on Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia”. 

2. Cure For Love

This is genuinely one of Ellie Goulding’s best songs, and just like “Something In The Way You Move” it delivers a burst of pure joy from the moment it begins. The rhythm of the chorus is slightly unexpected and it gives you this undeniable groove that will keep on returning to. 

3. By The End Of The Night

This is another standout in her discography. You could imagine hearing “By The End Of The Night” on “Delirium”, and it yet still feels fresh and exciting in 2023. It’s one that will become a staple in her live set, and one which is ridiculously fun to sing along to. 

4. Like A Saviour

Ellie premiered this song live in Sydney during her one-night-only show in December last year, and immediately the crowd were on-board with this 80’s inspired euro-banger, and it’s still a bonafide tune. 

5. Love Goes On

This song flips the standard production practice by delivering big verses and chorus with a drawn-back post-chorus that hears her have these big echoey vocal moments. There’s a little hint of her earlier material that lies there. The post chorus was also the refrain they used in the earlier album trailers for “Higher Than Heaven”. 

6. Easy Lover (feat. Big Sean)

“Easy Lover” was the first single released for this record, and honestly, what a song to begin this project with. It’s a bold and catchy track that reminded everyone of the numerous hits that belong in her discography. But I still prefer the version without Big Sean. 

7. Higher Than Heaven

Falling in a similar production direction to “Easy Lover”, the title track for this record is super slick and polished. It’s a little bit sultry and ultimately catchy. 

8. Let It Die

This was the second single released for the album and there are darker tones on here compared to the rest of the album. There are elements of her older material that shine through, while still finding a way to feel consistent and cohesive to the rest of the shiny-pop that finds its way on the tracklisting. 

9. Waiting For It

Sultry. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this song. The dark-pop beat that pulsates throughout is super addictive and reminds me of CXLOE. There are a lot of different light and shade moments on this track that keep it as an exciting listen. 

10. Just For You

An immediate highlight, this Julia Michales co-write is the playful sister to “Waiting For It”. It’s sexy, playful and undeniably catchy. It’s one you are going to want on replay over and over again.

11. How Long

This is a nod to her trap-pop experimentation that birthed songs like “Hate Me”, and “Worry About Me”. And honestly it’s the only forgettable track on this record and feels really out of place. It’s a skip for me. 

12. Temptation 

Kicking off the deluxe edition, this track steers back into the 80’s synth realm, and the bursts of synths that come through feel really kaleidoscopic. 

13. Intuition

Beginning with a brooding production, the chorus kicks into this sultry and persuasive pop production that is a nice contrast to the rest of the record. 

14. Tastes Like You

This is another big standout on the record as it’s the classic breakup track that is masked by big pop production. It’s about moving on from someone but still being able to taste them in the heartache and reminisce on the times you had. It’s just super catchy and one I hope we will get to scream live one day. 

15. Better Man

This is one of the most unexpected songs on the record, and it’s one of the biggest pay-offs. This is her Taylor Swift: “Reputation” era moment, as it’s dark, dominating and huge. This is definitely one of the must listen moments on the record. 

16. All By Myself (feat. Alok, Sigala)

This collaboration with Alok and Sigala is a huge pop moment and there’s no fighting with the stats, so I won’t. But honestly, this is one of my least fave Ellie pop-dance collabs.