Album Review: Lorde – Melodrama

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Lorde shows true colours with bold and raw sophomore record
Four years ago Lorde suddenly took the world by storm. The then 17-year-old singer from New Zealand went straight for the top with her single ‘Royals’ and the debut album Pure Heroine was a major success. In the years between albums she contributed to the soundtrack of the third Hunger Games movie while the seductive collaboration ‘Magnets’ with Disclosure from 2015 was the last we heard from her until she returned to the limelight with ‘Green Light’ earlier this year. This week she drops her raw and bold sophomore album Melodrama.

Lead single ‘Green Light’ (I still don’t understand how this did not become an international number 1 hit) set the tone for the whole project with a narrative about a girl who tries to party away an intense break up, but in the end has to confront her demons on her own. On the most recent, brilliantly written and produced promo single ‘Sober’ she asks herself the question: “But what will we do when we’re sober?” over a deep beat lightened up with some sax. ‘Perfect Places’, album closer and most instant poppy single to be found here, describes the search for their purpose Lorde and her peers go through only to ask herself the question: “What the fuck are perfect places anyway?”

Throughout the whole thing Lorde is lyrically on point, relatable and more honest than ever before. Piano ballad ‘Writer In The Dark’ sees her realizing she has a long way to go to get over her ex (“I’ll love you til my breathing stops, I’ll love you til you call the cops on me”) while showing off her vocal growth with hauntingly expressive Kate Bush-esque notes. She vocally shows more depth than anywhere on her debut on¬†‘Liability’¬†offering some of the most painfully honest and fragile lyrics: “The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy, til all of the tricks don’t work anymore and then they are bored of me.” ‘Liability’ gets a moody, more electronic reprise later in the album, which is sonically more in line with the rest of the album.

For Lorde’s debut she mainly worked with producer Joel Little whose involvement was limited for Melodrama, making place for Jack Antonoff (fun. and Bleachers) to produce the majority of the tracks. He oversees Lorde taking her electronic pop sound to a whole new level with a few bold production choices. The playful ‘The Louvre’ builds up with a subtle guitar riff to a chorus that repeats the line “broadcast the boom boom boom and make ’em all dance to it” over a rather deep and distorted beat. Risky to say the least, but it surprisingly works! The same goes for the detailed noise production of ‘Hard Feelings’ which perfectly complements the raw emotion of the lyrics. While ‘Supercut’ is quite the anthem with a larger than life pop hook where Lorde repeats the lyrics ‘In my head I did everything right’, still wondering how it all went wrong, the track has an unusual excessive outro that make those exact lyrics properly sink in.

Melodrama almost feels like a concept album with it’s reprises and part II’s, but every single beat and lyric seems to be in the right place. Lyrically soul-searching like you would expect from a 20-year-old, but also surprisingly raw and mature. Production wise she stepped up her game, showing that risks do pay off. On centerpiece ‘Sober II (Melodrama)’ Lorde paints the sad picture of the aftermath of a house party over dramatic strings while ominiously asking her listeners: “We told you this was melodrama, you wanted something that we offered.” What Lorde offers is a sonic evolution, more vocal depth, a coming of age story about learing to be alone and independent. It is save to say this what we wanted from her and then some!

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