“What is this tape? This is my favorite tape!”
In the first weekend Lorde’s new album Melodrama was out, I listened to it about 5 times all the way through. I’m still not sick of it. I’m listening to it again right now. I honestly can’t get enough of it. When Lorde announced her follow-up to 2013’s Pure Heroine, I was excited, but there was no way to know it would be as good as it is. For all it’s merit’s Pure Heroine isn’t anything incredibly special, though admittedly part of that sentiment might come from the fact “Royals” got played enough times that no one needs to hear it again for the next 5 years in order to remember the words. Lorde in 2013 was a prodigy of sorts with a special voice. She was only 15 and released some pretty great music that sounded unlike anything we had heard before.
Now, in 2017, Lorde is probably one of the most mature pop stars we have. Despite being 3 years younger than Arianna Grande, 7 years younger than Taylor Swift, and 12 years younger than Katy Perry, Lorde’s music is more calculated, thoughtful, and emotional than any of them. And it’s not even particularly close. I don’t mean because she swears a lot on the album (if anything it’s because she uses the word “rue”), although because of Taylor’s young audience, saying “damn” felt edgy for her. Deeper than that, something about “Writer in the Dark” holds so much more heart than anything Taylor has ever put out. I’m not even bashing Taylor here because she’s fantastic, Lorde is just on a different level.
Melodrama moves listeners through what it is like to be a twentysomething in a powerful and captivating way. Lorde isn’t afraid to share her experiences with drugs, sex, relationships, and stardom. While much of the album features some stellar production (with the help of Jack Antonoff, another one of pop music’s gems), “Writer in the Dark” and “Liability” scale everything way down and allow us to admire the rawness of Lorde’s unique voice. It’s clear that while she was away for nearly four years without an album, she did a lot of experiencing life, as every teenager should. Melodrama feels like it could have been written by one of my close friends, except if my friend was one of the world’s most talented songwriters. We’re given some fun songs at the beginning of the album about freedom with “Green Light” or the carelessness of a Saturday night underscored by the regrets of Sunday morning on “Sober“. As the album goes on Lorde really puts a magnifying glass to youth culture, and this combination of intelligence and relatability is where she absolutely shines. In the end, she’s nothing if not relatable.
Highlight: “Liability”‘s honesty and emotion constitute the heart and soul of the album. Lorde’s voice against the piano is a beautiful sound as it is, and the words she sings make it all the more moving.
Lowlight: If there has to be a weak link on the album, it’s certainly “Supercut”. While not a terrible song, its missing the uniqueness, and passion of the rest of the tracks. As a result, it just seems boring in comparison.
The Verdict: This is indisputably the best pop album of 2017 to date and likely the best we’ll get all year. Lorde has grown into her own as a pop star, and the world waits with bated breath to see where she’ll go next. This one is easy: