See another take on the album here.
“I’m 19 and I’m on fire.”
Lorde creates brilliant electricity in both the music and messages of her sophomore album, “Melodrama.”
Almost four years after the release of her last album, “Pure Heroine,” the New Zealand-born musician (née Ella Yelich-O’Connor) moves from adolescent angst to the dizzying balance of growing up, focusing on the trials of love and success. The album feels as if it were written for a generation currently on the cusp of adulthood.
Written and co-produced with Jack Antonoff, lead singer and songwriter for the band Bleachers, “Melodrama” is filled with many foot-tapping dance tracks, accompanied by haunting ballads that echo the sounds of Lana Del Rey and Fiona Apple. However, unlike many other pop albums, there is no stark divide between the radio powerhouses and album-only ballads; Lorde strings together a loose narrative, complete with reprises and songs that seamlessly fade into one another. In this way, Lorde infuses the methods of older classic-rock acts into the electropop sounds that have come to define the music of the 21st century.
Lorde is no one-hit wonder. Every song on the album, apart from the reprise of “Liability,” could be released as a single. “Green Light,” the lead single of the album, speaks of a breakup, yet isn’t bemoaning the lost love. As Lorde said in a tweet, the song is “unexpected,” as a key change quickly takes the listener from bitter verses to a chorus that energetically beckons the artist’s future.
This constantly moving energy is what keeps listeners tuned in until the end of the record.
As noted in an album review from The New York Times, Lorde also exhibits growth as she moves from her the all-encompassing “we” in her last album to more singular “I” on this one. While she still emulates the thoughts and feelings of a generation, fans can sense from her work that the singer is now more in touch with her emotions and experiences of the last few years. In “Hard Feelings/Loveless,” she sings of grappling with frightening emotions after being swept away by “all of the winds of regret and mistrust.”
Even at her most vulnerable, Lorde still exudes strength in her music. “Liability” expresses the struggle of meeting the expectations of others while also keeping a sense of self. While this quiet song discloses the artist’s insecurities, she still manages to hold onto the bold confidence that anyone who doubts her will watch her “disappear into the sun.”
Despite presenting a new sophistication, Lorde still stands as a voice for her “L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S generation,” with songs that will resonate with anyone experiencing the often melodramatic moments of youth.