Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, better known as Lorde, finally released her much awaited sophomore album Melodrama this summer. Having worked on this album for over three years, Lorde cultivates an emotional musical journey based on stepping away from a celebrity lifestyle and a recent break up with her long-term boyfriend. The album as a whole may be considered conceptual, narrating the feelings of a lonely individual at a houseparty. Produced by Jack Antonoff from Bleachers, who has also collaborated with the likes of Grimes, Carly Rae Jepsen and Charli XCX, Melodrama exudes catchy upbeat electropop interwoven with sensitive piano ballads.
1. Green Light
As Lorde’s reintroduction to the music world after a four-year absence, ‘Green Light’ polarised fans: many were suspicious of the chart-friendly dance-pop vibe of that bouncing piano line and the messy emotions which take the place of the uncompromising teen cool of ‘Royals’ or ‘Tennis Court’. As such, Melodrama’s lead single, and one of the year’s Great Pop Songs, slipped through the cracks somewhat.
From the technicolour that seeps into the song’s palette in the dense build of the prechorus, to the cathartic outro with its pealing synths, ‘Green Light’ is evidence of an artist who is capable of taking firm hold of the game and changing it from the top-down. “I hear sounds / In my mind, / Brand new sounds”, Lorde sings defiantly to the scorned past lover – and what wonderful sounds they are.
By Ruth Murphy
Reviving the lyrical dancing motifs of ‘Magnets’ and the background coos of ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’, Lorde pairs a trademark ominous instrumental with lighthearted, relatable lyrics describing an insatiable urge to dance all night. While the lyrics read dance-pop, Lorde’s traditionally melancholy delivery is suited more for an intimate flat party rather than the dance floor. As a whole, it is a highlight of an otherwise underwhelming album.
By Elijah Rodriguez
3. Homemade Dynamite
Our friends, our drinks, we get inspired”, is just a brief sample of the lyrics of ‘Homemade Dynamite’, summarising the essence of Melodrama. The genius combination of minimal synths and Lorde’s low-fi, breathy vocals (especially the unforgettable “now you know it’s really gonna blow….. bochhhhhm” at 2.10) gives this track a clear, dynamic and unusual eruption.
Lorde’s ability to mix selfish, callous, yet oh-so relatable lyrics, presents a common scene within which her millennial listeners can place themselves; in the rhetorical and identifiable question “I guess we’re partying?”, the lack of knowledge or understanding between themselves and whom they are kissing needs no answer.
By Rachel Alice Johnson
4. The Louvre
After her previous track with Disclosure, you could be forgiven for expecting this collaboration with Flume to be a bit ‘by the numbers’, as opposed to what ends up being a fascinating exploration of sound and soul. As on ‘Green Light’, Lorde uses different production styles to thrillingly move the narrative forwards. An argument with her lover – or herself – spirals until finally in the lines “can you hear the violence? Megaphone to my chest”, the listener is plunged into thick emotion. This is – perhaps literally – mindblowing pop craftsmanship, the kind that must surely be making Katy and Taylor green with envy.
By Kael Onion Oakley
6. Hard Feelings/Loveless
We’ve probably all experienced the searing pain and mind-numbing grief of those I-see-you-everywhere breakups. Sometimes it feels like your chest is caving in as you listen to your melancholy-indie-softboy playlist and think that you’ll always have to leave Sainsbury’s empty-handed because you’re surprised to see them on the bread aisle. Nevertheless, the self-care journey that heals your heart is Lorde’s ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’. This song holds your hand as you trawl through their social media in the early hours, telling you to be kinder to yourself and realise that you can function without them. As the track starts, Lorde begs her lover to be tender in ending their love. You want to weep because you know how awful the pain is, but Lorde doesn’t leave us feeling vulnerable at 2am. Our hero takes us on a journey of self care, self love and moving on. “I light all the candles, got flowers for all my rooms, I care for myself the way I used to care about you” is the line you’re still thinking about two hours later, not because you are loveless, but because you have realised your worth. No more crying in Sainsbury’s.
By Ella Thompson
7. Sober II
If Lorde’s Melodrama is an ode to heartbreak and moving on, ‘Sober II (Melodrama)’ is the moment that the buzz of alcohol fades away and one remembers the aching feeling in their heart. Singing of the “terror and the horror” and the “wonder why we bother [with love]”, Lorde admits words that we so often want to scream out. With all our pain, is loving someone even worth it? Lorde’s existential questions run throughout the song (‘who am I?’). Filled with dramatic symphonies and honest vocals, the song interrogates our fears, shedding light on the darker corners of our hearts.
By Cassandra Fox
8. Writer in the Dark
Break-ups are devastating. That all-encompassing heartache that erupts from your first proper break up is fuel for art, essays, blog posts, subtweets and piano ballads for months, even years to come.
However you choose to share this pain, whether through poetry or a passive aggressive meme on your Instagram story, sharing it is part of the healing process. Unfortunately, we have to carry on, to “find a way to be without you babe.”
‘Writer In The Dark’ takes us through this process, from the immediate devastation to harnessing a secret power to deal with our world falling apart. This is Lorde at her most emotive. This track really strikes a chord with those of us who love and feel intensely, those of us who might be at bit much to deal with constantly, who “were never good like you”.
Lorde’s voice in the chorus is almost strained, showing the real pain that comes from heartbreak. You really feel that she will love “til my breathing stops.” She “stumbles on a secret power”, the piano and strings like a wave washing over Lorde and the listener, as she sings about falling in love with her city, her own company, and herself.
We all have the power to get over our great loves: you might never have thought it, but you forgot about that boy you went out with for six months in Year 11; you moved on from the first girl you ever fell in love with; the grown man you spent three years making excuses for. They’ll stay in our memories, stories to tell after six pints, smells and sounds will always remind you of them and their dodgy haircuts.
Make them rue the day they kissed a writer in the dark, but don’t rue the day you kissed them back. Turn heartache into art, cry into a large white wine with your best friend, walk down streets you used to with them. Like Lorde, find a way to be without.
By Rachel Earnshaw
Climatic in scope, Lorde reflects with signature insight on a past relationship, drawing vivid pictures with all the luxurious harmony and driving beats developed on Pure Heroine. Whereas with Pure Heroine we might have expected a cool-kid aloofness and a dry, cutting wit, here Lorde brings a vulnerability and pop flair which characterises her sophomore album. Lorde continues to bring her inspired lyrics too, with imaginative metaphor of “wild and fluorescent” relationships, the recollection of which is the titular “supercut”. The song is a perfect summary of Lorde, her golden formula of inspired lyrics, infectious melody, and inviting relatability make it another jewel in her gem studded discography.
By Adam Ditchfield
10. Liability (Reprise)
The penultimate track of Melodrama calls back to ‘Liability’ and builds upon the sadness of ‘Supercut’s climax. Opening with an eerie swelling, Lorde’s voice pierces the silence with Imogen Heap-esque vocals, echoing her earlier refrain, “I’m a liability.” When the beat drops, Lorde pours out her heart and you feel the mournful regret of someone reflecting on the death of a relationship. Or in Melodrama terms, the end of the ‘party.’ Lyrics of sheer vulnerability and open honesty over a hypnotic, synth-drenched beat. It’s unbelievably moving and for me, takes the record to the next level. Beautiful.
Melodrama closes with a track that draws on aspects of teenage decadence, reminiscent of her early hit single ‘Royals’. The line “I’m nineteen and I’m on fire” reminds us that Lorde is still so young for an artist as successful as she is, but she remains grounded in the pursuit of success while still maintaining a sense of idealism.The song builds on a simple electronic drum beat into loud and proud layered vocals, evoking the feeling of a crowd singing along at a festival: “we are young and we’re ashamed”. We have been on Lorde’s emotional journey from the beginning right to the very end; the sober, stripped down vocals and piano chords let the listener know that they should hold on to their dreams.
By Amelia Abeyawardene
IMAGE: Focka, Flickr