Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ Under Review

In 2013, Ella Yelich O’ Connor burst onto a bustling music scene with her debut single ‘Royals’, an electropop melody about the calamities and modernity of teen life. What started as the lead single of a debut EP turned into a worldwide number one hit, laying the path for her Grammy award winning debut LP ‘Pure Heroine’. O’ Connor, a mere sixteen-year-old, quickly shot to fame under the stage name ‘Lorde’, and found herself leaving her home in New Zealand to embark on a worldwide tour. Pure Heroine, a dreampop story, chronicled the life and culture of today’s youth, whilst exploring aspects of love, partying and a sense of detachment from the world. The album became a massive success, receiving critical acclaim from music critics and going 3x platinum in the US and Australia. But what followed Pure Heroine was not just a 3-year long break, but a break-up, leading to the release of 2017’s most buzzworthy sophomore album.

Last year marked the return of Lorde to the music scene, beginning with the release of ‘Green Light’, the lead single from O’ Connor’s sophomore album ‘Melodrama’. Fun, heart-wrenching and complex, ‘Green Light’ flirts with the heartache of her recent break-up, with the very title being a metaphor for the idea of moving forward. Yet this was only a hint of what was to come, and soon enough followed the release of ‘Melodrama’, a personal journal detailing the despair of a broken-down relationship. The album signalled a shift in maturity for O’ Connor; gone were the lyrics that glorified teenage culture, and in its place came the exploration of emotion and solitude. Melodrama loosely follows the concept of a house party, as seen on the track ‘Sober’, in which she details coming down from her high. The album once again received critical acclaim, with NME naming it their “2017 Album of the Year”. With Ella’s sleek, embellished lyrics and Jack Antonoff’s slick production, it’s not hard to see why.

The album goes from strength to strength, detailing O’ Connor’s emotive journey using dynamic, synthetic beats from beginning to end. Melodrama begins with its chart-topping lead single, before taking us further into the hypnotic intimacies of the house party with ‘Sober’ and ‘Homemade Dynamite’. Both singles commence the start of a nostalgic masterpiece, as Lorde imagines her past relationship being displayed in ‘The Louvre’, albeit “down the back, but who cares/Still the Louvre”. These endearing fantasies, however, soon transform into heartbreak in the piano ballads ‘Liability’ and ‘Writer in the Dark’, where carefully crafted lyrics and passionate vocals carry her through the heartache and angst directed towards her ex-lover. The album rounds off with two of its most dance worthy tracks: ‘Supercut’, a synthetic, colourful film reel in which the relationship plays out in O’Connor’s head like a Hollywood movie, and ‘Perfect Places’, an ode to Pure Heroine in which Lorde concludes by revelling on her “graceless night”.

Yet the album’s strongest tracks can be found in the form of ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’ and ‘Sober II (Melodrama)’. No two songs on the album better encapsulate the whirlwind of emotions felt in her break-up, and Lorde quite simply packs a punch in the space of nine minutes. Six of these, however, are dedicated to ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’, a perfect mashup of the realisation and anger of her heartbreak, whilst ‘Sober II (Melodrama)’, its cinematic successor, begins an acceptance of reality. Yet in all of Melodrama’s colourful glory, it is ‘Loveless’ that shines through, as Lorde establishes her role in the current “l-o-v-e-l-e-s-s generation” and takes back control of her power (“Bet you wanna rip my heart out/Bet you wanna skip my calls now/Well guess what? I like that”). The cycle of emotion felt between ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’ establishes itself as the most intricate track on the album, marking the height Lorde’s successful return to the industry with an album that will be talked about for years to come.