Did you notice when you turned 20? Did you watch the second hand tick round, breathing in deep as it jerked from 59 to 0 and you jerked from Teen to Adult, knowing that nothing had changed but life as you knew it was over?
No, nor me. Nor anyone who isn’t in some kind of scripted, emotionally manipulative teen drama. We don’t generally notice eras ending until some time after they have ended, in random order and not on memorable dates that come with greetings cards and cake. Time may be linear but hearts and emotions are not, so you can turn 20 when you’re 27 just by breaking someone’s heart with the turn of your head. You can be 18 when you’re 29 by finally letting yourself be silly and drunk and not care about anything for a bit. You can turn 100 when you’re 15 and 30 when you’re 32 and on the bus to Homebase in the rain on a mission to buy houseplants because your aching heart demands it. You often turn 76 the day after exercising.
Lorde might be the only person in the world experiencing life in the right order. Lorde knew what it was to be a teenager when she was a teenager, to the point where she taught me what it was to be a teenager when I was very definitely not chronologically a teenager (although we’re all teenagers forever now, really, aren’t we).
I can’t remember when I first heard Pure Heroine because life isn’t packaged up that neatly and my memory is very bad. But I know it was in 2013, a weird year when I was 27 and 18 and 5 and 49 and 13 and every age but the age that I was. You have to have those years sometimes, where you’re in flux and you suddenly wonder if you might not be the person you are after all. Pure Heroine sounds exactly like how you wanted your teenage years to sound. It’s louche af. Its lyrics are extremely pencil case worthy, pretending not to care but caring extremely deeply. Songs are about real girls who get real bored. It’s all ‘we’ and not ‘I’, and Lorde’s hair is wild and her face is odd and you want to be lying in deserted highways with her, swigging 20/20 and talking till dawn about nothing and everything. Listening to Pure Heroine reminds me of long-forgotten seances, the feeling of sneaking into clubs and out of class, the bright flash of friendship, the all-encompassing emotions of being young and confused and scared and excited and angry and sad and bored and clever and shy and just everything all at once, all the time.
Lorde knew when she turned 20. As the clock ticked from 59 to 0 and Lorde left her teenage years behind, she was telling us about the complex set of emotions she was feeling on Facebook like the hyper-aware millennial that she is. Her new single, probably a massive pop hit, is out later today and I’m excited about that. But I’m more excited about the album as a whole because I just know this funny, magical, wise woman who’s, like, 12 year my junior still has plenty to teach me about how to be who I am.
“Writing Pure Heroine was my way of enshrining our teenage glory, putting it up in lights forever so that part of me never dies,” she wrote. “And this record — well, this one is about what comes next.”
Thank god. Because at some point my emotions will have to at least vaguely align with my actual age and if I have to grow up, I don’t want to do it alone.