In 2013, a 16-year-old from New Zealand burst onto the international music scene. With her too cool to care attitude and lyrics that reached far beyond her years, Lorde was an overnight superstar. Her smash hit “Royals” made her a household name and a critical darling with its odd lyricism and production that carried the entirety of her debut Pure Heroine to the brilliance that it achieved. Yet there was a disconnect on Pure Heroine, one that only truly becomes noticeable when you listen to its follow-up Melodrama. Here, she pairs that originality of her debut, elevates and even makes it somewhat relatable. She has matured even more and you can hear it in her music, which once seemed like a front now contains her essence and experiences. It’s a sweeping, dark and dramatic pop album that blends the commerciality of its genre with a spark of originality and daring that so often evades pop music.
The lead single and opening track “Green Light”, along with fellow tracks “Loveless” (the second half of a double feature), “Supercut” and “Perfect Places” represent the closest thing to commercial pop that Lorde comes to on the LP. That being said they are all fabulously off-centre and different approaches to what it is to be commercial. Their production is fabulously unique despite their commercial tint and lyrics are brilliantly smart as they always are with this particular artist, most notable on “Supercut” where she croons ‘So I fall/ Into continents and cars/ All the stages and the stars’, elevating what merely could be a pop song to something more deeply meaningful.
The albums centre represents takes a turn after the anger of the pop tinged “Green Light” and “Sober”. “Homemade Dynamite”, “The Louvre” and “Sober II” masterfully capture the dramatic mood of the album, transporting us to an almost Shakespearean like existence, where everything is bold and full of emotion. The latter track has one of the most commercial productions of the lot with its second half adopting a relatively basic trap beat, yet is one of the most original tracks in Lorde’s entire catalogue. She growls and moans across the sweeping violins and crinkling trap beat asking ‘And the terror, and the horror/ Gotta wonder why we bother?’.
The rest of the album is an odd space for Lorde which contains full on ballads. “Writer in the Dark” is an emotional massacre where Lorde fully embraces her love of Bowie, most noticeable with the almost yelped chorus which is pure magic. However, it is “Liability” where Lorde transforms. The crowning jewel of her entire discography just so happens to be a slow, piano ballad. The song is pure and utter brilliance where she lays herself bare and raw unlike anything we have ever seen before, perfectly capturing how it feels to be disregarded or forgettable.
All in all, while Pure Heroine was a fantastic debut, Melodrama is a triumph, a masterpiece. Lorde takes a tired genre, deconstructs all of its formulaic parts and puts them back together in a hurricane of originality and emotion. Elevating the pop genre to levels unheard of before. Her vocals, lyrics and production have all matured to an indescribable height. She seamlessly blends what pop music is supposed to be with everything that art is supposed to be – catchy, raw, enjoyable and emotional. A masterpiece to say the least and one the greatest pop albums ever created, is nothing short of perfect.
Melodrama is available now.