The phrase ‘refreshingly honest’ gets thrown around so much these days that it has all but lost its meaning. Lorde’s Melodrama rectifies this by creating an album that serves so many different purposes it’s almost paradoxical. Melodrama functions as an authentic autobiographical account of Lorde’s sudden surge to stardom, but its lyrics also whisper the fears and vulnerabilities of a twenty year old girl trying to understand relationships and the workings of the world around her. It’s also an incredibly intelligent social commentary on today’s hedonistic millennial craziness. It is relatable and it’s completely foreign, it is confident and vulnerable, and it is euphoric and utterly heart-breaking.
Since the success of her triple-platinum debut album Pure Heroine, Lorde has taken some time away from the spotlight, but she burst back into the charts earlier this year with her single ‘Green Light’ and immediately reasserted herself as pop royalty in the making. ‘Green Light’ is a passionate explosion of colourful chaos that perfectly encapsulates the excitement and uncertainty of youth. This track sounds so iconic it could easily be likened to classic Cher, with a pounding bassline and uplifting piano chords to rival any legendary disco chorus.
The stripped back ‘Liability’ and ‘Writer In The Dark’ play more like coming-of-age songs penned by the teen Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, rather than the persona of pop superstar Lorde. This is Lorde at her most vulnerable and exposed, and these tracks definitely add an authentic maturity and relatability to the album.
The real beauty in Melodrama lies in the craft of the song writing itself. Lorde manipulates the music to hide a multitude of dark thoughts, sugar-coating sinister lyrics of death and violence with gorgeous harmonies, and lacing psychopathic obsession and paranoia into an extravagant weave of majestic synths and rousing choruses. If you were to listen to ‘Homemade Dynamite’ half-heartedly, you’d probably hum along obliviously as Lorde sweetly sings about getting in a car with a drunk driver and ending up “painted on the road, red and chrome, all the broken glass sparkling”.
Lorde’s lyrics are poetic by nature, and that is what’s so magical about her writing. Sibilance rolls off her tongue languidly in ‘Sober’ as she poses the dilemma of facing social interactions without the crutch of alcohol and drugs, meanwhile drawing twisted comparisons between a toxic relationship and a distorted version of the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme. In ‘The Louvre’, Lorde does what she does best, painting poetic depictions of a Summer that ‘slipped us underneath her tongue’. She describes lust and longing in such a deliciously enticing way, explaining how she “drink[s] up your movements, still I can’t get enough’, but pairs this with the seemingly indifferent chorus that pop music boasts all too often; “Broadcast the boom, boom, boom, and make ‘em all dance to it”. Lorde manages to criticise the mindless formula of white noise in sub-par pop music by directly opposing it, using an intricate, highly intelligent pop song, that’s also excellently produced with Flume’s gilded touch.
Melodrama is a punchy album buzzing with electricity and excitement, and it proves Lorde is living up to title of “the future of music” awarded to her by none other than David Bowie himself.