“Brand new sounds, in my mind,” sings a now 20 year-old Lorde on “Green Light”, the first single off the pop phenomenon’s sophomore record Melodrama.
This introductory phrase describes the new era of Lorde’s music perfectly. While not all the sounds linked to Pure Heroine are absent from the New Zealand singer’s second record, Melodrama feels more cinematic – more expansive and exploratory in sound. It uses various sounds to capture the complex feelings Lorde possesses during this phase of her life.
Lorde has described Melodrama as a concept album depicting a house party. The album is an introspective journey of the psyche. It has that sense of euphoric madness (“Green Light”, “Homemade Dynamite”), that feeling of loneliness and existentialism (“Liability”, “Writer in the Dark”), and that closure and relief one fights hard to find after a night of romance and partying (“Supercut”, “Liability (Reprise)”, “Perfect Places”).
Melodrama is a very experimental album.
Lorde takes many risks, and the results are mostly successful. The artist has grown vocally and lyrically. She has gained experience and perspective on life since the surprise success of Pure Heroine launched her into the limelight.
She explains the confusion, euphoria, and complexity of being young on “Green Light”. She further explores the physical and emotional hangover of a night of partying with “Sober II (Melodrama)”.
Throughout the partying, Lorde navigates the depths of her own emotion. The memories flash before her like a “Supercut”. She remembers the beautiful beginning stages of a relationship on “The Louvre”, the first signs of trouble with “Liability”, and the bitter end on “Writer in the Dark”.
The album takes snapshots of these emotions and brings them into a party setting. The songstress is able to portray universal feelings of detachment and solitude, putting them into the context of the iPhone generation.
The songs are incredibly well-produced, with Jack Antonoff overseeing the bulk of the project. The main issue with Melodrama is the record’s flow. It feels choppy at times, most especially the transition from “Hard Feelings” to “Sober II”. The songs are both strong on their own, but the musical transition is jarring. Further, “The Louvre” is the only track that demands an immediate second play.
Melodrama will inevitably draw several comparisons to Pure Heroine. While it may never reach the heights of Lorde’s debut record, it will stand alone as a strong body of work. Its diverse array of sounds, masterful lyrics, and thought-provoking themes are enough to satisfy fans and may draw in new listeners.
This Lorde is different. She is more hopeful and less apathetic about the world around her. Where Pure Heroine was a time capsule of teenage life, Melodrama is the bridge to adult life – uncertainty and all.