Halsey has been sneaking heavier rock music into their extremely successful pop music since day one. They regularly cite alternative rock bands like Nirvana, The Cure, and The Cranberries as influences, they're frequently namedropping (and sometimes sampling) punk and emo bands, they nabbed Alanis Morissette for their last album, and they've appeared on Travis Barker-aided pop punk revival tracks from Yungblud and Machine Gun Kelly. So it's not really out of left field that they'd make an album entirely produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the core duo of Nine Inch Nails; it's more like a long time coming.
If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power -- which also features Dave Grohl, Lindsey Buckingham, TV On the Radio's Dave Sitek, The Bug, Meat Beat Manifesto's Jack Dangers, Pino Palladino, and Karriem Riggins -- is the darkest, most unconventional-sounding album that Halsey has released yet, but it still feels like a Halsey album. Their distinct voice is in fine form, and their songwriting is at its most authentic. They've called the album -- which comes with an accompanying film -- "a concept album about the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth," and their lyricism dives into these topics in a way that feels plucked straight from a diary. "My new baby's been testing me lately/Making me crazy from morning to evening/And I cannot take it, I love it, I break it," they sing over the skittering breakbeats of the Jack Dangers-assisted album standout "Girl Is A Gun." The song is such a dancefloor-mover that it might take a few listens to realize how much it mirrors a therapy session. An even more intense moment comes on the somber album closer "Ya'aburnee," when Halsey croons "Darling, you will bury me before I bury you." It sounds assertive on paper, but when you hear their sing it, you can feel the fearfully implied "I hope."