For almost four years, the world waited with utmost curiosity as to what was next for New Zealand artist Lorde. After releasing her game-changing debut album, Pure Heroine, in 2013 to both critical acclaim and sky-rocketting sales, there was always going to be turbulent anticipation of what would come next. But now, after her time away from the limelight, the queen of misfit teens and pop eccentricity returns with her well-ripened, sophisticated second instalment, Melodrama.
Mysteriously captivating, the palette for Melodrama is dramatically versatile and luminously symbolic, publicly showcasing Lorde’s transition from a talented teen to an accomplished woman. With a complex depth of sound, the musical production of this album is expansive. You can hear the different choices made to create an album that still holds Lorde’s signature cold, isolated vocals, hard-hitting drum lines and relatable lyrics, but also bringing them into a light that gives them a more lucid and radiant quality.
The perfect fusion of sensitive songwriting and guarded melodies bring darkness with a bit of sparkle to the ear drums, taking a different path when compared to the minimal sounds and patterns of Pure Heroine.
“I do my make up in somebody else’s car…”, that incomparable voice penetrates through the speakers with angst and a little salty flavour. Right from the start of Green Light, you can tell that Lorde has something to say and she wants to shout it to the universe. Opening with one of the biggest tracks of 2017 so far, the album then journeys through an array of heartbreak, celebration and self-awareness. Stand out tracks like Liability and Hard Feelings/Loveless showcase delicate compositions and structures, fearlessly clever songwriting and drops that resonate deep in your chest, giving you that euphoric buzz when you sway with your eyes closed.
Sober II (Melodrama) hosts a strong electronic and hip hop influence, giving the album another outlook, but contrasting that sound with breathy, high-pitched vocals comparable to Kate Bush’s Don’t Give Up. From there, Writer In The Dark may be the most honest and raw track in the mix; a ballad weaving dark, enigmatic patterns without over-complicating the structure.
For me, the absolute hero of Melodrama is Sober. A combination of elements so diverse and contrasting you don’t know which beautiful layer to focus on. So, you sit back and allow yourself to be pulled into an alluring tangle of brassy accents, cunning whispers and a rhythm arrangement that make you want to body roll on the dancefloor like there’s no tomorrow (which I’m sure would have been exactly what Lorde would have wanted). About halfway through, like a blow to the stomach, a drum beat kicks in with vivid hints and influences of earlier work like Team and Tennis Court.
As far as follow-up albums go, Lorde has smashed it. Emotional maturity could not have flourished in a more fluid way. It’s safe to say that Lorde is back, stronger and more magnificent than ever. Splendid listening for getting ready on a Saturday night, or even a big night in with Thai food. Either way, let yourself absorb the gifted, glittering creative that is Lorde.
Lorde – Melodrama
Released: 16 June, 2017 via Republic Records