Ellie Goulding bagged the 2009 Critics' Choice Brit award, but somewhere along the way the critics changed their minds and Goulding found herself caught up in the beige wave of New Boring. (It didn't help that she followed her debut album with that John Lewis ad cover of Your Song, which made it seem as if her new direction was going to be "Laura Marling on a Power Plate"). But this, the followup to the incredibly successful Lights, isn't nearly as wet as its predecessor. Where that was tenuous, this is sure, combining delicate ballads (Joy, I Know You Care) with strident electro-pop (Anything Could Happen) and surprising production quirks – though chucking a happy hardcore vocal on to the end of Only You may be a quirk too far. In fact, the main flaw of Halcyon is that it occasionally feels a bit too much – and that's something Goulding, perennially painted as the timid type, may not be so sad about.
Rebecca Nicholson is a columnist for the Observer and the Guardian