Review: Lorde – Melodrama

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Heartbroken

What a ridiculously powerful and emotional album - brb, playing it on repeat for the next year.

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It’s hard to make a follow-up album that’s as good as the debut, but I think Lorde might have done it with Melodrama. New Zealander Ella Yelich-O’Conner made it big after her track ‘Royals’ (from her 2012 EP Love Club) reached number 1 in 19 different charts across the world in 2013. She became an overnight sensation, leading to the release of her Tennis Ball EP in June 2013 and in the autumn, her debut album Pure Heroine. Her first ever gig sold out in 73 seconds, she has two Grammy Awards and a Brit Award. Basically, she’s a pretty big deal and I’ve been ridiculously excited for Melodrama ever since hearing ‘Green Light‘, which is possibly one of the best songs to open an album with ever.

Melodrama, so says Lorde, is “a record about being alone… The good parts and the bad parts.” Written after a breakup, this theme is something which dominates the majority of the album’s tracks; she sings about heartbreak in ‘Green Light’ (“Cause honey I’ll come get my things, but I can’t let go”), sacrifice and obsession in ‘The Louvre’ (“Blow all my friendships / To sit in hell with you”). In ‘Writer In The Dark’ she muses that her ex must regret kissing her, the eponymous writer in the dark, because “Now she’s gonna play and sing and lock you in her heart” – much like how in The Louvre she sings “But we’re the greatest / They’ll hang us in the Louvre / Down the back, but who cares—still the Louvre”. The love they shared will still exist even when they’ve separated, that their relationship should be memorialised. Even if they’re “down the back”, they’re still in one of the best art museum’s in the world.

 In a seemingly swift departure from what we’re used to hearing from her, Melodrama starts with Lorde’s usual piano driven instrumentals accompanied by strong vocals, before adding in kick drums, harmonies, and a tantalising hook. Nothing about this album sounds like a typical Top 40 pop album, or really like her debut; there’s some really cool distorted production going on, especially in the choruses of ‘The Louvre’. Lorde’s twist on this track from standard sounding vocals, harmonies and guitar chords to the change at the end of the pre-chorus, initiated by the lyrics “Broadcast the boom, boom, boom, boom / And make ’em all dance to it” which shifts the sound to become more distorted, almost like you’re hearing it underwater.

As much as I loved Pure Heroine, it’s evident that there was a bit of a rush to get it out so they could ride the wave of popularity that Lorde was on – the album is really quite good, but Melodrama is much more mature in its lyrics. She opens up more on this album, addressing her fame in ‘Liability’ with “They say, ‘You’re a little much for me, you’re a liability / You’re a little much for me’ / So they pull back, make other plans / I understand, I’m a liability”, broadcasting the feeling that because of her job she thinks she’s always going to end up being a burden on someone.

In songs like ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’ she sings “When you’ve outgrown a lover / The whole world knows but you / It’s time to let go of this endless summer afternoon”, a hard topic to talk about let alone release to the world on an album. On ‘Liability’, she looks at the idea of self-care and channelling her energy into looking after herself, “I care for myself the way I used to care about you”. During this track she also sings about how “The only love I haven’t screwed up” is the love she has for herself so it needs to be looked after, like in ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’.

Melodrama is just an incredible album, it’s taken me far too long to review it but it’s one of those where you just need to turn it off sometimes because it’s speaking to you too much. There’s too much truth to it, the heartbreak is palpable and it makes your own heart hurt a little bit… just me? I wish I was as able to put my emotions into words like Lorde can. If this is the quality of her at 20, I’m so excited to see what’s to come.

Melodrama is out now via Universal

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Third year PAIR student and live editor. Also the Wessex Scene's Head of Events. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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