Be afraid of Halsey on her new album “Badlands”

“God damn right, you should be scared of me,” bellows Halsey during “Control,” a track off her debut album, “Badlands,” creating a nearly perfect introduction for a blue-haired pop star in the making.

In fewer than 10 words, Halsey has created a character that is so striking and imposing that the listener has no choice but to heed her words and feel utterly terrified.

Halsey, a stage name for 20-year-old Ashley Frangipane, fits comfortably in a category with fellow genre-busting pop stars Lorde and Lana Del Rey. After launching a career through a small but fervent online fan base, Halsey was able to grab the attention of better-known acts, like Imagine Dragons and The Weeknd, who she will tour with later this fall.

This appeal is immediately noticeable throughout “Badlands.” The album is stuffed with absorbing synths and clever riffs. “Gasoline” opens with an ominous mandolin that is as soothing as it is disconcerting. Later in the track she asks, “Do you call yourself a fucking hurricane like me?” followed by a memorable melody heard on a previous track titled “Hurricane.”

As fascinating as “Badlands” often is sonically, Halsey harnesses most of her power in her lyrics. In these lines, she populates her world with seedy characters she can’t resist, late-night drives and time spent gazing from the back seat. “You said your mother only smiled on her TV show… I hope you make it to the day you’re 28 years old,” she croons on “Colors.”

“Badlands” is far from invincible. “New Americana,” as catchy as it is, can’t shake off the impression that it is anything more than a plastic and clunky attempt at social commentary. “Cigarettes and tiny liquor bottles / Just what you’d expect inside her new Balenciaga,” she sings on the track. The song’s anthemic, call-to-arms chorus is irresistible, but feels too manufactured to be memorable.

“Drive” sounds like Halsey’s best Lana Del Rey impression. “California never felt like home to me,” she repeats throughout the track. While she does a good job of capturing Del Rey’s signature brand of West Coast yearning, Halsey can never capture her inspiration’s enigmatic appeal for long enough to truly sell this track.

Despite the many similarities that could be drawn between Halsey and all the other young women with a yen for electro-pop currently dominating the record industry, “Badlands” is still an impressive debut, providing just the platform necessary to hoist its artist above the fray. Her name is Halsey and you should be scared of her. God damn right.

Album: “Badlands”
Musician: Halsey
Release Date: Aug. 28, 2015