A little off-key for me, but I decided to review Lorde’s new album as there’s nothing I dislike more than the assumption that because you like one set of bands so you can’t like chart music.
Lorde is only twenty (I’m sure I’m not the first to make that observation) and her second album, Melodrama, is undeniably an early front-runner for the best album of the year, which is quite a feat. Melodrama is the kind of album you can have a slow, unfurling love affair with, where songs which initially blended into the background come to the fore and impress you and suddenly become your new absolute favourite. I’ve been listening to this album on and off since it came out ten days ago (with an obvious break for Glastonbury) and I can honestly say I’ve liked a different track and seen different hidden depths to it each day.
(Apologies in advance for the obvious comparison but) Lorde is something like the lovechild of Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Marina and the Diamonds, taking all the best elements and putting them into a driven, thoughtful combination. Yelich-O’Connor (Lorde’s alias) takes vulnerability, raw honesty and emotional intensity, and puts them all together in a way which is more endearing and less cloying than a few of her contemporaries. There are also points in this album which are a bit like when you’re reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and you realise Jane Austen is sitting back and quietly laughing at all her characters, you feel Lorde’s investment and emotional ties to the themes of her songs whilst she simultaneously criticises the meaninglessness of the hedonistic exchanges which are described, and she’s an excellent social commentator. Everything she says in this album is important, and nothing is unnecessary, and the lyrical poignancy is bound together by exceptional sound and production.
It’s hard to talk about all the songs without sounding gushing (if I haven’t already), so I’ll just pull out a few favourites. Early contenders at first listen were ‘Homemade Dynamite’ and ‘Supercut’. I promise it is impossible to dislike either of these songs; ‘Homemade Dynamite’ is like a sonic earworm, and I love how she paints a picture with her words, such as, “Might get your friend to drive, but he can hardly see/ We’ll end up painted on the road, red and chrome, all the broken glass sparkling/ I guess we’re partying” whilst maintaining a ‘show-not-tell’ attitude which implies her deep scepticism. Meanwhile, ‘Supercut’ is a perfect metaphor for replaying memories after a breakup, and I love how it makes you feel happy and sad at the same time.
Later, after more listens, songs like ‘The Louvre’ and ‘Liability’ come through, with ‘The Louvre’ describing the excitement of falling in love with the wrong person (and this theme is very Lana Del Rey). ‘Liability’ is a stunning, heart-wrenching monologue of loneliness, it sounds very musical-theatre and it could easily fit into a West End show. I love the lyrics where Yelich-O’Connor describes her attempts to boost her self-esteem: “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”. Certainly a potential highlight of the album.
Lorde never shies away from honest expression, and songs like ‘Writer in the Dark’ will push the listener to their boundaries. Content-wise, there is little diversion from her debut album, but it’s more upbeat and easy to dance to than her first album. Songs like ‘Green Light’ and ‘Perfect Places’ came through so well in her Glastonbury set and it made me really want to go and see her live again.
I could probably write about specific lyrics and songs that I like for hours, but in short, I would definitely recommend. 10/10 album, fantastic, exceptional. It’s a must-listen.