What did Lorde’s debut Pure Heroine tell us about her? It told us she was one of the more introverted members of pop’s elite, it showed she has a fixation with minimal, crisp, raw R&B flavoured beats. It also showed us that as a lyricist Lorde is very thematic; although each track on that album did unfold with its own unique narrative, there was an underlying theme throughout it was about being a teenager and all reveries of that inevitably come attached to the naivety of a 17 year olds mind. Lorde’s sophomore effort holds on to the quintessential elements her music and amplifies them with help from better producers and a lyrical diversity.
As you can probably tell by the cover art,Melodrama is a break up album, but no need to for any tissues here. This album is about finding solace in independence. It’s gloriously triumphant as a whole - however it does throw in a few tearjerkers take like Liability, for instance - sounds like a modernised reincarnation of a track from David Bowie’s Hunky Dory or Lou Reed’s Transformer. Not only through the piano, but through Lorde’s singing style cramming vast amounts of information into each verse and then giving a heart melting chorus which will ooze through the cracks in a broken heart. This song is a lonely ballad about Lorde returning home only to be comforted by her own self “I do my best to meet her demands Play at romance, we slow dance In the living room, but all that a stranger would see Is one girl swaying alone Stroking her cheek”.
Kuk Harrell who worked on Rihanna’s Anti has a production credit on most of the songs in the track listing here and the album sonically has a lot in common with that record. However Lorde’s performance is much more unique and passionate than Rihanna could dream of. Moments like Supercut and The Louvre create an almost euphoric atmosphere with some bitter undertones.
Homemade Dynamite is a highlight. It’s a Timberlakesque sensual banger, where Lorde hisses the killer hook over punchy infectious alternative R&B production. The track Sober opens with a looped sample of Lorde’s manipulated vocals sounding trapped in a virtual prison then she sings the opening line “oh god I’m clean out of air in my lungs.” The frantic atmosphere which drives this song is a real curveball, when it immediately proceeds the opening track and lead single Green Light a luxurious pop anthem incorporating a magnificent piano riff and a drum beat which will got all the “I don’t like dancing” lot down on the floor. Green Light is the best song Lorde has released to date and could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with Outkast’s Hey Ya and Azealia Bank’s 212 as a contender for song of the 21st century.
The only flaw of this album is that Lorde is held back by the limitations of pop, she takes pinches from trip hop, trap and even elements from the dreamy side of shoegaze. Lorde is also keen to show of her vocal inspirations on this record singing “L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S Generation”, with some vocal effects which are reminiscent of mid 90s Bjork and on the track Writer In The Dark, she sounds scarily similar to Kate Bush.
The album ends on the song Perfect Places; the songs title couldn’t be any more fitting; Melodrama has had a kind of Frank Ocean Blond effect in making a seemingly brilliant debut album look kind of mediocre in perfecting the foundations set by its predecessor. Lorde’s delivery and lyricism are pure perfection making the idea of a second 4 year disappearance are saddening one.
(Words: Aimee Armstrong)