Lorde burst onto the scene in 2013 as the new princess of alt. pop. She wowed everyone with her introspective songwriting and frank account of teenage love and life. And then she didn’t release another album for four long years. Sure, she did a couple soundtrack songs and collaborations, but no full-length releases. During that time, Lorde grew up, fell in love, and had her first real heartbreak. And that sense of overexcitement and despair comes through loud and clear on her long-awaited sophomore album Melodrama. We ride through the highs and lows of Lorde’s love affair and learn a little bit about the joy and pain in between. Though poppier than Pure Heroine, this album truly cements Lorde into her position as princess of alt. pop. Here is a track-by-track review of Ms. Yelich-O’Connor’s latest effort:
- Green Light- The first single from the album brings out a new side to Lorde. It’s a pop anthem, but it explores her recent heartbreak. Backed by piano, Lorde bemoans the little details. Her ex lying about their love of the beach is tantamount to betrayal in her state of mind. She belts with vulnerability and thinly veiled anger. It’s truly a lovely song and is one of my favorites.
- Sober- This is a swanky track about a dysfunctional couple who are only good together when they’re high. Or, alternatively, being together makes them feel high, but they know it won’t last forever. The horns add a unique touch to the song that really makes it pop. There’s a sense of denial to this song, neither of them wanting to admit that things are about to fall apart and that they care more than they want to admit.
- Homemade Dynamite- This is a song about being young and stupid. It’s a remarkably chill track for a song about getting fucked up, sleeping around, destroying things, and not giving a shit. It’s another personal favorite.
- The Louvre- This is a song about that new love feeling, that overwhelming emotion when you have a crush. It’s that heart-pounding, mind-altering time when all you care about is the object of your affection. You believe your love is the most beautiful thing in the world, even if no one else sees it (as evidenced in the line, “They’ll hang us in the Louvre/Down the back, but who cares/Still the Louvre.”). This is another one for my favorites.
- Liability- This is Lorde’s first honest-to-god ballad. She mourns the fact that, because of who she is and what she does, she’ll always be too much for people. Sometimes she feels like she’s the only one she’ll ever have— the only one who stays. Though she tries to make peace with what she believes to be fact, she still grieves for all she’s lost and will lose. It’s a devastating track that shows more vulnerability than Lorde has ever before shown.
- Hard Feelings/Loveless- This is a painful track about that moment when you know a relationship is over, but don’t quite want to let go yet. She reflects on how difficult the realization is and how you’re still wrapped up in all the memories, from the little to the big. However, halfway through the track, Lorde shifts gears. The song picks up and Lorde begins discussing her generation as a whole. It’s about how we purposely put ourselves through pain because we can’t let go and that it leads not only to our suffering, but to the suffering of the person we can’t quite get over. It’s a messed up, but frighteningly true take on Millennials and it’s another favorite.
- Sober II (Melodrama)- This interlude is about the aftermath of a night of hard partying and the results of the melodramatic, hyperbolic lives of Millennials. It’s almost to the point of giving up, but doesn’t quite get there. I wish it were longer because it’s another favorite.
- Writer in the Dark- This is a lowkey power ballad chronicling Lorde’s life after her break-up. She wrestles with her broken heart and overwhelming amout of love still left for her ex. She calls out her ex for being jealous over her fame and, in doing so, discovers a way to help her cope. This song literally documents Lorde discovering writing about her break-up helps her get over her break-up. It’s also a favorite.
- Supercut- This upbeat track is about Lorde looking back on all the good times in her relationship and imagining what she would’ve done differently if she knew it would lead to their end. There’s an almost wistful nature to this song, as well as an insistence that things actually could have been different. She can’t forget and she can’t let go, making this happy pop song a sad one.
- Liability (Reprise)- This interlude is Lorde reflecting on the fact that she and her ex didn’t know themselves as well as they thought they did. She hears echoes of his words to her and begins internalizing them. It’s a short listen, but a rough one.
- Perfect Places- This album closer is the Melodrama track that is the most “classic Lorde.” It’s about the fast life of the young and how that overwhelming sense of joy and importance makes everything feel perfect, even when it’s not. It also has a sense of searching for something larger than life and bigger than yourself. It’s a great arena anthem and one of my favorites.
Despite misgivings about her new sound, Lorde really brought it to this album. She pours her soul in a way she hadn’t before and tugs at your heartstrings. Collaborating with Jack Antonoff (of Bleachers fame) was a great move, as the two have written masterpiece after masterpiece. I truly love this self-portrait of an album and can’t wait to see what the Melodrama era brings.