Lorde’s sophomore album Melodrama is the dark pop masterpiece we needed.
When Lorde released "Green Light" on March 2nd of this year there was a genuine sense of excitement in the pop music stratosphere. As a lead single, the song invited Lorde's previous fan base to embrace a new, more pop side of her. "Green Light" remains both current and alternative at the same time. The notion that her and her friends are waiting for the sign, that green light, is incredibly smart and relatable. It's a brilliant introduction to this new chapter of Lorde's life since she burst onto the scene with 2013’s Pure Heroine.
Fast forward three months and here we are with Melodrama. With a title like that, one would be forgiven for thinking that it serves as a series soundtrack for an episode of Lena Dunham's Girls. However, whilst that may be applicable, the album creates a brilliant narrative all on its own. Lorde has stated multiple times that Melodrama is supposed to represent the story and emotions of a house party she attended with her friends. Nonetheless, it seems as the album progresses that Melodrama is more of a comment on a relationship that's gone sour, and the repercussions that come from it. That notion hits home in "Writer In The Dark." The track "Sober" comes across initially as a track about the fumbles of drunken dalliances and the remorse that comes from this when you wake up sober, next to last night's conquest. "Homemade Dynamite" continues on the theme of regret as Lorde begins to talk about her self-destructive tendencies, and this is a reason for waking up in strangers' beds. Yet the juxtaposition between the upbeat nature of the song and the lyricism, covering ideas of a drunk driver crashing and her lying in the glass because of their self-destructive nature, could be a metaphor for the end of the 20-year-old’s relationship. But hey, at least we're partying.
As the album continues in to its half-way point, "Liability", the listener sees Lorde finding herself lost and alone with just herself despite all of her liaisons. The "Royals" singer now realizes she is alone because she can't get close to people – perhaps a reference to the fame that alienates her from friendships she had before super stardom? Losing pals and lovers because of who she is gives the New Zealand native an existential crisis. Hearing breath on the vocal take makes it feel like a live rendition in the middle of this well-produced album; it perfectly highlights its message of feeling lost and alone.
However, as the project moves on from this, it begins to become slightly predictable. The LP as a whole is a brilliant listen and a masterclass in storytelling, but the latter half struggles because Lorde worked with only one major collaborator for the entire project: Bleachers frontman Jack Antoff. Melodrama retains its incredible production but sometimes feels like Lorde is stuck on what to talk about. "Hard Feelings/Loveless" highlights this the most. With only the "Loveless" portion of the track providing a change in sound and psyche; acting mostly as a prelude to the realisations the singer-songwriter comes to in "Liability (Reprise)." In "Supercut" the listener accepts Lorde's attempts to move on from a man that tied her up in knots, yet Lorde continues to indulge. But in "Liability (Reprise)," she realizes it is him that's the problem... not her.
The album closes with second single "Perfect Places", which in all its 1989 meets E•MO•TION production acts as an active epilogue for the narrative. Here, Lorde discusses everything that the 10 previous tracks does and gives them closure. "Perfect Places" has a chorus as anthemic as "Green Light," and the two perfectly bookend this story of getting over a lover and shaking off their haunting shadow.
In her Pure Heroine followup, Lorde bares her emotional baggage. We feel the pain that she feels. We feel the joy that she feels. And it is this impeccable narrative structure that tells an interesting and relatable story that ultimately makes this album one of the best of 2017 so far.
Favourite Lyric: "Oh, God, I'm closing my teeth around this liquor-wet lime"
Favourite Songs: "Green Light," "Sober" and "Sober II (Melodrama)"