This generation has always been one that’s at a loss for words. Incoherent tweets in the midst of another racially charged murder, bursts of anger over being dumped into an excuse of an economy, angry error-riddled texts to former flames. Through all that, however, Lorde remains an eloquent outlier. A poet leading us through Juul clouds and performative activism towards a clearer, more level headed version of our vices. After all, not every teenager’s angsty manifestations end up winning Grammys.
So, it was obvious that if there was anyone who could capture the molecules that swarm around heartbreak, an emotion that has no real parallel, it was her. And with Green Light, expectations transform into ecstatic reality. Bitterness has never felt this sweet.
So, it begs the question, how do you chronicle unexplored waters?
For Lorde, it begins with a vision. Of her, ready to party. However, unlike the countless times before, she is alone. Sure she’s around her girlfriends, but inside, a lover shaped void now permeates throughout her.
“We order different drinks at the same bar”
A setting that once brought her and her ex together has digressed into nothing more than a vestigial relic of a time long gone, a part of the corpse that has yet to rot away.
It represents a physical manifestation of her yet-to-move-on state of mind.
“I know about what you did, and I wanna scream the truth/She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar”
For Lorde, closure is as fictional as this guy’s flirting skills and personality. Backed by a piano progression that seems to feed off this vexation, accusations turn to revenge-seeking fantasies. “Hope they bite you” she sings with a cunning auditory smile. “Did it frighten you/ How we kissed when we danced on the light-up floor?”, she asks. Is it that I was too much of a woman for you, or were you just too little of a man for me? It’s assertive and bold. Common for her kind.
Yet, somewhere between the lines, there’s this palpable sense of uncertain hope, where it isn’t clear if Lorde will win this imaginary war.
Just as soon as this uncertainty approaches the surface, it disappears all together, as the piano and synthesizers seemingly pull Lorde back into the driver’s seat of this rollercoaster.
“But I hear sounds in my mind/Brand new sounds, in my mind”
A new dawn is on the horizon, or so it seems. The words of the chorus seemingly defeat its magnificent catharsis, whereby Lorde declares “But honey, I’ll be seeing you down every road/I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it”.
This new dawn isn’t here yet. Despite the words, there’s something that seems to hint otherwise. Her confidence in the face of such an obstacle seems unwarranted, and yet here she is, singing with a ferocity that seems more celebratory that disheartening. A “the story is not over yet” type of undertone, if you will. The light’s not green right now, but you best believe that it will soon, and when it does, you won’t see her again.
Royals, the single that elevated her into the upper echelon of one hit wonders, wore its minimalism like a badge of honour. Her words couldn’t care less about the drama of the world around her.
Green Light, on the other hand, is a maximalist labour of love, complete with all the over-the-top exaggerations, drugged-up pianos, and “WOO WOO WOOP WOOPs” a raging, newly minted ex could ask for.
It’s Lorde unlike ever before, and the world is all the better with it.