With a title like “Graveyard,” one would imagine a dark and/or aggressive sound to match — especially following previous single “Nightmare” — but then you don’t know Halsey. Subverting expectations once again, the lead single to her forthcoming third album, Manic (which “Nightmare” is noticeably absent from the current tracklist), is a somewhat acoustic affair; hand claps and other natural percussion dominate, with minimalist synths maintaining an undercurrent for the by-the-books melody. Closer to the soundscape of 2017’s hopeless fountain kingdom than its direct predecessor, it’s an intriguing step back into safety.
Like many great Halsey singles, “Graveyard” examines her gravitation to toxic lovers. “It’s crazy when/the thing you love the most is the detriment” begins the track, the singer forcing herself to accept the observation; she continues in destructive metaphors before jumping into a shockingly sweet chorus about staying by her partner’s side to — you guessed it! — the grave, for better or for worse. Verse two marches on in much the same fashion as the first, with less romanticized lyrics that hint at abusive behaviors. The “bridge” (consisting of a mere two lines) is the most exciting moment of the song, the singer taking a deep breath like she’s just surfaced from a live burial. It’s that kind of melodrama that makes a Halsey track, and adds a much-needed thrill to “Graveyard.”