New Zealand’s musical entity that is Lorde returns with her long awaited follow up to Grammy nominated album Pure Heroine, with a release that yet again takes your breath away – Melodrama.
Pure Heroine’s release in 2013 catapulted Lorde to chart-topping heights. It would be easy to imagine lesser acts succumbing to a bankable pop style, but she’s stayed true to herself putting out a body of work that embodies her individuality and a unique sound. In a time when originality is sadly lacking in the mainstream chart, the Royals star deserves respect for this.
The anticipation for Melodrama has been high. Green Light was released in February – an electronic backed song inspired by her first heartbreak – and showed that the ability demonstrated on Pure Heroine to write songs that are raw and uplifting at the same time remains. Melodrama shows us that her music is maturing; several different sounds come into fruition which were less apparent on the first release. Her vocal range ties the album together as a body of work, as she weaves her way through the narrative of a break up. She has said herself it’s a break up album, but in fact it sounds like an album about being alone with the good and bad that that entails.
Her age may be one of the biggest factors of her success, she’s relatable to an audience of millenials (and others too of course) because she is one. She’s singing about her first heartbreak and it’s something that will feel close to the experience of her key audience, and they can look to be inspired by her. Her “weirdness” and “quirky” nature may be criticised by commenters on YouTube videos of her live performance, but these are the qualities that set her apart from her pop contemporaries. The album sees her transition from that teenage girl to strong female role model, it has the perfect balance of anthemic production and melodic vocals of tracks such as Perfect Places and Sober contrasting with stripped back power of Writer in the Dark or Sober II (Melodrama). She’s one of few chart successes that has music and an aura that’s respected by a plethora of people including famed support from rappers like Ro Ransom, Raekwon and even Kanye West.
Her meteoric rise to fame was always going to be contested with her second album, and rightly so, but Lorde has lived up to her legacy with a well-crafted, original and inspiring project. The highlight is between two tracks for me, one is the beautifully melancholic Liability, a personal song which Lorde wrote when she felt “like the biggest loser she knew”. It’s so sad and so emotionally provoking, with just the piano as the minimalist backdrop allowing her vocal power to shine. The other is The Louvre, it starts off like a 80s inspired American rock song, but evolves into a masterful chopped-n-screwed electro hit that wouldn’t be out of place on a Frank Ocean or Toro y Moi album. Lorde has sent out a message with this album that despite her young age, she deserves her place in the pop canon, and it carries with it a promise that there’s a lot more to come.
I waited to finish this review until I’d seen her perform the songs live at Glastonbury and I’m glad I did. This is no fluke sound created by auto tune and studio trickery. Her voice is the real deal. The Melodrama tour is coming soon and you don’t want to miss it.
Words by Rohan Parmar.