Lorde proves that she has earned her title as “Voice of a Generation” with new album Melodrama, the highly-anticipated follow-up to her stunning debut Pure Heroine.
Lorde sets the tone for her second album in the cover art. Created by artist Sam McKinniss, it captures the singer in a blue dusk, face lit by neon, gaze fixed off-centre. Lorde’s 2013 debut Pure Heroine became an instant classic; an ode to teenage ennui. What set it apart, and perhaps even above, the debuts of her peers was the way she embraced her outsider perspective – a delicate balance of light and shade, always a bit off-centre.
Her impressive debut had an alternative spirit and meticulous attention to detail – it would always be a tough act to follow. Melodrama, released four years after it’s predecessor, largely written and recorded with Jack Antonoff, takes inspiration from the inevitable growing up that follows the dizzying heights of youth, heartbreak, and life in the limelight. The subject matter may not be revolutionary but Lorde retains that outsider perspective which makes her so unique. This time around her style has matured, it is more ambitious (which is saying something), and it makes for a confident and incredibly successful album.
The opening track ‘Green Light’ serves its purpose perfectly. A euphoric pop song that shouldn’t work on paper – with its unexpected key changes and non-rhymes – that ultimately does. The uninhibited energy of the song filters through to the first few tracks of the album. The hedonism and drama of ‘Sober’ and ‘Homemade Dynamite’ shine, and serve as an interesting reminder that the world Lorde once challenged and satirised is the world which she now manoeuvres.
Another remnant of Lorde’s previous outings that has survived is her undeniable skill as a songwriter. One of the highlights of the album, ‘The Louvre’, ascends to the slightly-sinister refrain: ‘Broadcast the boom boom boom boom and make them all dance to it’. There’s a seductive darkness to her writing, only Lorde could weave a car crash into a song (‘Homemade Dynamite’) and make it sound like this: ‘Might get your friend to drive, but he can hardly see – we’ll end up painted on the road in red and chrome, all the broken glass sparkling’.
This intensity strikes through the core of the album stemming from its desire to be honestly comprehensive – this isn’t a collection of break up songs, some reflective, others celebratory – this is everything at once. ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’ has a switch up that will go down in history. From the soul-baring recount of a relationship barely clinging to life, to a saccharine-sweet but equally sadistic take on modern relationships. ‘Writer in the Dark’ at once looks back at an all-consuming love, and looks ahead at a woman taking control of her heartbreak in a razor-sharp falsetto. It’s an album that can go from the aching vulnerability of ‘Liability’, to ‘Sober II’; another highlight that with it’s cinematic strings, embraces melodrama in its truest sense. It is storytelling at its finest.
The songstress bows out with ‘Perfect Places’ another anthem dedicated to reckless abandon and excess in search of something perfect. But why deliver standard glittering synth-pop when you can end in defiance?: ‘What the fuck are perfect places anyway?’.
All-in-all, Melodrama proves that Lorde has not lost her daredevil attitude. This album is anything but a safe followup; rather it is a rich and beautifully melodramatic one.
Words: Gurnesha Bola