Melodrama x Lorde Review

The Kiwi songstress delivers on her sophomore record filled with innovative pop melodies and rich, emotional songwriting.

Cover art by Lorde’s friend Sam McKinniss

Album: Melodrama

Artist: Lorde

Grade: A

Other than being the same age, Lorde and I barely have anything in common. She’s from New Zealand, I’m from Michigan. She’s white, I’m brown. She has hair I would die for. Despite this, the themes contained in her 2013 debut, Pure Heroine, captivated me. Being an outsider is one of the most common topics you can find in any medium, but Lorde managed to repackage the same idea with exceptional wit and a fresh, elegant sound. As much as it worked the first time, Lorde knew she couldn’t coast and simply make a Pure Heroine Vol. 2, even though most fans would have loved it. Her life was changing, she was growing up and her next project needed to be reflective of that. The result of her four year absence is Melodrama, Lorde’s fantastic dive into her own heartbreak-induced metamorphosis.

The album opens with “Green Light,” the first of four promotional singles, where Lorde begins to detail her breakup. Featuring an anthemic chorus driven by a jangling piano and brooding synths, the refrain signals the beginning of her recovery process. By the end, it’s been clear that she’s ready to start moving on and take us through the journey in the remaining tracks. On “Sober,” she highlights her relationship’s best parts while constantly reminding us that the feelings don’t last when they’ve come down from the high.

The next two tracks, “Homemade Dynamite” (my favorite from the project) and “The Louvre”deal with the halcyon days of a fresh relationship. The former chronicles the couple recklessly having fun, while the latter glances at the pair through rose-colored glasses, stressing the importance of the relationship by insinuating that it should be showcased in the Louvre.

“Liability,” a traditional piano driven ballad, finds Lorde at her most vulnerable. She reveals her insecurities, specifically how she feels as if no one will be able to truly love her. The lines,

We slow dance in the living room, but all that a stranger would see
Is one girl swaying alone, stroking her cheek

are particularly heartbreaking, and let the listener know the extent of Lorde’s newfound loneliness. In “Writer in the Dark,” she professes her regret for investing so much in her relationship while acknowledging her never-ending love for him — two seemingly contradictory beliefs. The album closes with “Perfect Places,” a blaring, four minute anthem concluding that while her late teenage years might‘ve been filled with plenty of fun, she came out feeling empty overall.

Melodrama boasts an overall more grandiose production than Pure Heroine. Whereas Pure Heroine felt atmospheric, Melodrama prominently features pure pop production. Jack Antonoff (of Bleachers fame) co-wrote the album with Lorde. Known for his anthemic choruses, Antonoff’s fingerprints reveal themselves throughout the project (“Green Light,” “Perfect Places”). There’s a little PC Music influence (“Homemade Dynamite,” “Hard Feelings/Loveless”) as well as traditional ballads (“Liability,” “Writer in the Dark,” “Sober II”).

Melodrama is a deep, satisfying dive into Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s persona. Lorde wields her pen with the utmost confidence, authoring prose unknown for most 20 year olds. Through her vivid descriptions, we see her flying high with her love on a reckless, drug addled spree and we see her when she’s struggling to gather the remaining pieces of her fractured psyche. Antonoff’s musical genius shines in the production, providing us with catchy, pop hooks that don’t overshadow the inklings of Lorde’s soul found in the lyrics. At only 20 years old, Lorde should be damn proud that she has the savvy to create such a work of art and I can only expect her craft to increase in quality.

brb — gonna go feel like trash for knowing she’s the same age as me.