Lorde, Melodrama | Album Review
Kiwi alt-pop artist Lorde returns after a four-year hiatus with her ambitious, highly-anticipated sophomore album, ‘Melodrama.’
Early in 2017, alternative pop artist Lorde got off to a quick start promoting her sophomore album, Melodrama. In 2013, she became a star, thanks to Grammy-winning, alt-pop hit, “Royals.” She’d go on to have other hits from Pure Heroine, but “Royals” was her ‘ace in the hole.’ Now a more mature, 20-year old, Lorde expands her artistry throughout the course of Melodrama.
“Green Light” served as an early indication that Lorde was evolving her sound. Being a departure, “Green Light” gives her a fresh start. Lorde doesn’t sound particularly smooth vocally, but her raspy, coarse, tone is quite appealing. Her intensity is a selling point, as she shows feistiness from the onset. After delivering the pre-chorus in her lower register, everything comes together on the chorus, which is incredibly infectious.
“‘Cause honey I’ll come get my things, but I can’t let go / I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it.”
Danceable production work and fantastic backing vocals provide the cherry on top.
“Sober” commences mysteriously and in somewhat off-putting fashion. After iterations of lyric, “Night, Midnight, lose my mind,” The verse follows, produced sparingly. Ultimately, it’s accompanied by subtle synths and a groove. On the pre-chorus, she makes it clear she wants to dance. By the chorus, she asserts:
“We’re king and queen of the weekend / Ain’t a pill that could touch our rush / (But what will we do when we’re sober?) / When you dream with a fever / Bet you wish you could touch our rush / (But what will we do when we’re sober?) …”
There’s clearly fun involved – too much narratively speaking. One of the best attributes is the addition of the brass. Excellent vocal production makes Lorde’s voice incredibly robust. All in all, it’s another captivating song by Lorde.
“Homemade Dynamite” is another slickly produced joint. Lorde meets someone who she likes but doesn’t know, and from there, things get crazy – melodrama. The chorus exceptionally illustrates how it goes down:
“Our rules, our dreams, we’re blind / Blowing shit up with homemade d-d-d-dynamite / Our friends, our drinks, we get inspired.”
Chalk it up to youth, a prevalent theme throughout Melodrama that continues on “The Louvre.” The title alone suggests that Lorde is trying to be dramatic. From the start, it’s clear that Lorde and her boo are caught up in young, dangerous love. The lyrics are poetic, embracing the alt-pop sensibilities soundly. On the first verse, she sings:
“Well, summer slipped us underneath her tongue / Our days and nights are perfumed with obsession / Half of my wardrobe is on your bedroom floor / Use our eyes, throw our hands overboard.”
It gets even more passionate as the song progresses. The rush is real:
“Megaphone to my chest / Broadcast the boom, boom, boom, boom / And make ‘em dance to it.”
She knows it’s risky and superficial, but being young, she’s willing to “Blow all my friendships / To sit in hell with you.”
“Liability” is a reflective ballad with singer-songwriter sensibilities written all over it. The lyrics are incredibly poetic and thoughtfully performed. Lorde focuses on her smokier lower register, accentuating the melodrama. The production work is conservative, led by piano sans percussion. Regardless, the overall result is nothing short of beautiful. Lyrically, Lorde sings about being too high maintenance and how it’s ruined her relationships. Ultimately, she knows what she wants, and she has herself. The vulnerability that she showcases here is exceptional.
With “Hard Feelings /Loveless,” Lorde drops the popular two-part song. “Hard Feelings” depicts the break-up essentially. The chorus is particularly stunning, thanks to the harmonized vocal treatment of the titular line. On the second part, “Loveless,” Lorde describes the perception of millennial love as dysfunctional:
“We’re L.O.V.E.L.E.S.S. / Generation / All f*ckin’ with our lover’s head / Generation.”
“Sober II (Melodrama)”
“Sober II (Melodrama)” contrasts the original drastically, bringing in dramatic strings to capture the aftermath of the fun. Naturally, the melodrama is heightened here. Lorde even says so:
“We told you this was melodrama / (Oh, how fast the evening passes / Cleaning up the champagne glasses).”
Ballad “Writer in the Dark” is definitely directed at an ex. From the jump, Lorde has mixed feelings. She’s clearly upset the relationship is over but intends to move on.
“I am my mother’s child, I’ll love you ‘til my breathing stops / I’ll love you ‘til you call the cops on me / But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power / I’ll find a way to be without you, babe.”
“Supercut” smartly increases the tempo, returning the element of groove (and fun) back to Melodrama. Lorde continues to relive the wild relationship through a supercut. What exactly is a supercut? Understanding the definition adds more meaning to the song. A supercut is a compilation of a large number of video clips, typically showing examples of a repeated or clichéd action or phrase in films or broadcasts. Essentially, the relationship seems to be overvalued – shallower and less glamorous than it is viewed from the participants’ perspective.
“Liability (Reprise)” continues the melodrama. At this point, it seems that the switch has clicked on for Lorde. On “Supercut,” she still seemed to value the relationship, even though it wasn’t particularly deep. Here, she finally comes to the realization that he’s not all that. She begins as the liability, but she shifts the characterization to him.
“Perfect Places” concludes Melodrama superbly. It opens with a sense of mysteriousness initially, best explained by its suspect, party vibe. This sentiment comes through loud and clear during the first verse. The second verse confirms the carefree, unapologetic party vibes, in a sexually-charged manner. Spare production work on the verses allows for her voice to shine. A grand chorus is bright and energetic, featuring a sound vocal mix.
All in all, Lorde returns in a big way with Melodrama. After a four-year hiatus, the alternative-pop artist returns soundly, delivering one of the most intriguing albums of 2017 without question. Another pro about this particular project is that she successfully executes the concept, something that is incredibly tough to accomplish with conceptual albums. Melodrama, hence, is a gem.
Gems: “Green Light,” “Sober,” “Homemade Dynamite,” “Liability” & “Perfect Places”