Lorde Gives Adolescence a Voice on ‘Melodrama’
It is no secret that Lorde’s unique voice and perspective are unusually addictive — her debut ‘Pure Heroine’ proved just as much. But since her 2013 debut, the New Zealand native has left her worldwide fanbase waiting desperately for her follow-up record, a wait she finally ended with her latest venture, ‘Melodrama.’ An examination, rather a damnation of what it is like to grow under the marquee lights, we find Lorde grappling, understandably so, with the well deserved fame that befell her so quickly. A double edge sword, “Melodrama” is Lorde’s way of coming to terms with what comes with superstardom — the constant prying and microscopic analysis of her every move — while simultaneously allowing herself to relish in her critical success. While it is great to be on the “it” list, the ends do not always justify the means. A coming of age tale full of strong, reverberating themes of independence and the need for a carefree night out, Lorde once again finds a way to deeply resonate with the hearts of the youth that fell for her years ago. Though ‘Melodrama’ doesn’t give you that punch drunk love we experienced on ‘Pure Heroin,’ that doesn’t mean it isn’t a step forward and worth a listen.
The album opens with the infectious single ‘Green Light,’ a bouncing dance floor anthem co-written by Joel Little (Pure Heroin). ‘Green Light,’ though fast paced and joyful, feels more like Lorde is decompressing after a night out rather than prepping for one. Nothing here feels contrived. Her attitude remains intact without following any linear pop formulas, a much appreciated departure from the mainstream. Minimal electronic soundscapes meet club beats on ‘Sober.’ The musical equivalent of an exasperated scream, the track retells the events of the night before with the emotional acuity of someone far beyond Lorde’s years. While we still find echoes of ‘Royals’ on tracks like ‘Homemade Dynamite,’ the lyrical sharpness – aided here by Tove Lo gives the song new life. Hip hop meets moody electro beats and the party feels like it is happening all around you, and trust us, you’re not calling an Uber any time soon. Lorde then skillfully slows things down with the vulnerable piano ballad, ‘Liability.’ She coos “The truth is, I am a toy / That people enjoy / Until all of the tricks don’t work anymore / And then they are bored of me / I know that it’s exciting / Running through the night / When every perfect summer’s eating me alive / Until you’re gone,” it is her willingness to be raw and real with the tribulations of her personal relationships that keep us coming back for more. Rounding things out with the strut inducing ‘The Louvre’ and the booming chorus of ‘Supercut,’ Lorde proves she still has her pop chops under control.
“Melodrama” represents Lorde’s growing pains. While not every one of the 11 tracks here is show-stopping, her sophomore effort does include some of her best work to date. There is absolutely no filler here. Lorde’s lyricism has this rare and almost magical ability to connect with that youthful piece inside all of us — the part that is still figuring things out — and it is truly comforting that someone else is willing to admit to making mistakes. Defiant adolescence at its best, you can feel the rebellion ripping through the seams, and the energy produced is palpable. Just like the youths she speaks to, Lorde is making mistakes, evolving and finding out who she is going to be, and we can’t wait for her next metamorphosis.