On “The Louvre,” Lorde chants “Can you hear the violence?” If one was not paying attention, it almost sounds like “Can you hear the violets?” This might sound insignificant, but Lorde has a capacity for storytelling like no other artist before her. A simple change in enunciation can result in a complete shift in meaning–one that produces a profound feeling in the listener.
Lorde’s storytelling ability is unmatched, as she does not conform to the typical pop sounds of today. Rather, Lorde writes about her unique experiences while successfully tying in relatable struggles for most teenagers growing up in 2017. On her sophomore album “Melodrama,” Lorde continues to establish herself as a voice for discontented teens everywhere.
A four-year period between albums can feel like an eternity. Like the fans of Frank Ocean, an artist who is notorious for pushing back his music, fans of Lorde were eager for something more after her brilliant debut album “Pure Heroine” launched her to pop stardom in 2013. From the moment I heard “Royals,” I knew that she was not an artist I would ever forget.
As Lorde has described in interviews and during her live shows, “Melodrama” takes the listener through the highs and lows of a house party. It has a particular start and finish, and is meant to be listened to in order. Lorde dropped “Green Light,” the first promotional single for “Melodrama,” in March and it wholeheartedly diverged from the work she had put out into the world before.
“Green Light” does not follow the normal recipe for a pop masterpiece, with a piano instrumental crescendoing into an overwhelming beat. But isn’t that similar to the fluctuations of a house party? The music begins and the guests start vibing, until suddenly a beat drops and the world around them breaks into chaos.
It is not my favorite song on the album by any means, but “Green Light” provides an excellent introduction to a breathtaking album, and the world of “Melodrama.” The lyrics “Thought you said that you would always be in love, but you’re not in love no more” cling to you, carrying you through the rest of the album.
The following single, “Liability,” is a beautiful ballad that Lorde wrote for herself and for anyone that feels like they don’t belong or are a nuisance to others. Many teens, especially those in college, may be struggling to find a place in the world, and Lorde understands that. One feels like she is speaking directly to them in “Liability.” Her words aren’t hollow or contrived, but rather come from a place of understanding. It ends with the haunting lyrics, “They’re all gonna watch me disappear into the sun.”
On “Sober,” which is directly after “Green Light,” the party is in full swing, but Lorde is already questioning what will happen when the lights turn back on and one must face reality again. “But what will we do when we’re sober?” serves as a bleak but daunting truth. “Midnight, we’re fading. ’Til daylight, we’re jaded. We know that it’s over. In the morning, you’ll be dancing with all the heartache.” The magic of the night, and perhaps even a particular person, is quick to fade once it ends.
“Perfect Places,” the final single and song on the album, breaks down the illusion that everyone is having a great time at the party. There is no such thing as a “Perfect Place,” but rather the imperfections of being a teenager and these house parties are what make life so special. An endless cycle of evenings and the harsh heat of the summer cannot stop teenage euphoria. “I hate the headlines and the weather, I’m 19 and I’m on fire. But when we’re dancing I’m alright / It’s just another graceless night.” The final line of the song and the album, “What the fuck are perfect places anyway?” serves as a sound conclusion of this whirlwind narrative. Stop searching for perfect moments and live your life.
The tracks on “Melodrama” that meant the most to me weren’t necessarily the singles. “The Louvre” explores being lovestruck with a previous relationship. “Our thing progresses, I call and you come through. Blow all my friendships / To sit in hell with you. But we’re the greatest / They’ll hang us in the Louvre. Down the back, but who cares—still the Louvre.”
Falling in love produces this sense of euphoria, one that may also be present at these house parties. A love that is worthy of one of the most famous museums in the world may seem over the top, but an inundation of feelings always accompanies being in love. The lyrics “Broadcast the boom boom boom and make ’em all dance to it” are accompanied by a beautiful bass guitar that further induces a dreamlike state.
“In my head, I play a supercut of us.” In the opening lines of “Supercut,” my personal favorite song on the album, Lorde looks back on the positive aspects of a previous relationship while realizing most parts of it were idealized. She focuses on how a relationship should be rather than how it truly is, blinded by her imagination. “Cause in my head (in my head, I do everything right). When you call (when you call, I’ll forgive and not fight). Because ours are the moments I play in the dark. We were wild and fluorescent, come home to my heart.”
Everyone plays short films in their head of the best parts of a relationship, whether it be romantic or just a friendship. You don’t think of all of the bad attributes when you are in a dreamlike state.
“Melodrama” is not a reiteration of the sounds of “Pure Heroine.” Rather, it continues to expand on Lorde’s profound storytelling ability. It is my favorite album of the year so far, and I hope that Lorde gets the recognition she deserves as an artist.
I had the opportunity to see her live for the first time at The Governors Ball Music Festival, and her performance was exquisite. The way she interacts with the crowd provides a special connection between a fan and an artist, a connection that I have never felt before. You feel as though she is speaking to you directly, whether it be in the lines of her song or from 200 hundred feet away as her legs dangle off the edge of the stage as she sings, “I’m a liability.”
Lorde is one of the best songwriters of our generation, as she is particularly capable in weaving her own personal stories into beautiful, unforgettable tracks that still are able to project universal themes of love, loneliness and heartbreak.