It comes up when she's describing her life ("Nothing surprises me anymore – it's mental"); pondering an upcoming trip to Ibiza ("It's one of those places you just have to accept is mental"); noting that she owes Prince William and Kate Middleton, who picked her to perform at their 2011 wedding, a baby gift ("Just totally mental").plus 10 new tunes, like the rave-y smash single "Burn" and collaborations with fun.frontman Nate Ruess, French house producer Madeon and British drum & bass star DJ Fresh.
"Instead of trying to tell a story of a particular time, I did the new songs more for fun." This time around, Goulding is putting distance between herself and her song subjects: "I used to say 'fuck it' and tell everyone who my songs were about, but I'm a bit more secretive now," she says. Take the piano-backed ballad "Hearts Without Chains," which touches on scars that need healing and misery "weightless as a stone." (It was co-written by Fraser T.
Smith, who's behind Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain.") "It's my favorite song of the batch," says Goulding. Plus, it's quite nice to listen to and not be in the state I was when I wrote it." Another standout: "Goodness Gracious," a blippy ode to fickleness co-written with Ruess.
"I've been in situations where I knew someone wasn't right for me, yet I kept bringing them back," says Goulding.
"The song is about dissing yourself for not thinking straight and not being fair." On the flip side, the sweet, contemplative "How Long Will I Love You" would make a killer first-wedding-dance song.
"Unfortunately, I'm a hopeless romantic," says Goulding, who grew up watching Richard Curtis films like doesn't go too heavy on the, well, heavy stuff.
To wit: "Stay Awake," a collaboration with Madeon, celebrates "not sleeping and partying all night" over triumphant synth stabs.
"It's less serious content than I'd usually write about," says Goulding.
"But I've always been a fan of club songs that feel good." That's fitting, because Goulding has proved herself a master of the feel-good-club-song genre.
Her Calvin Harris collaboration "I Need Your Love" was nominated for two VMAs this year, one in a new category, Song of the Summer.