Lorde released sophomore album Melodrama this March to much critical acclaim, as it was lauded as one of the best albums of the year alongside Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Lorde is no stranger to acclaim of this level: her debut single, Royals, made her the youngest artist to top the Billboard Top 100 since 1987 and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for her contribution to the Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 soundtrack. So how has the 21-year-old from New Zealand managed this feat? How has she taken pop music and made it have as much of an impact as the raw lyrics of the rap artist from Compton?
One word. Honesty. When comparing Lorde to others of her generation there is one stark difference. She is not attempting to shape herself to a mould that has been pre-set. Instead she is looking to establish herself as an artist free of labels and stereotypes; as Lorde. Her previous work has already been praised by industry greats such as the late David Bowie who called her “the future of music,” and this is evident from her creative and innovative new album.
Although it is considered a typical pop album, it explores various sub genres of pop and boldly experiments to create a sound that is truly individual. Each song has been produced to perfection, alongside producer and co-songwriter Jack Antonoff (of Bleachers and Fun fame), so that the album comes together flawlessly and seamlessly. Instrumentally, Lorde’s album creates a variety of moods from the acoustic piano of Liability to The Louvre, which mixes together a variety of instruments and styles to take the listener on the journey she took; each style blends into the next seamlessly as a natural progression.
Lyrically, Lorde’s words can be compared to those of her contemporary and friend, Taylor Swift. Both artists explore their generation’s struggle to find love, success and happiness and questions whether all three can be achieved simultaneously. Although her and Swift may be writing about the same topics, Swift chooses to focus on how the album is a two-finger salute to her haters, whilst Lorde is simply expressing herself without agenda. She does not shy away from difficult issues, such as songwriters’ use of their music to explore past relationships in The Writer in the Dark and the madness following the end of a relationship in Green Light. She portrays herself as the everyday girl living in our current society and the challenges and complexities this creates. She normalises the very things that Swift has dramatized and been criticised for. She is honest, she is clear and she is speaking the emotions many of her generation are struggling to put into words.
So, at a time there are pop albums that come out as often as once a week, how has Lorde stood out? She is not looking for success, she is not looking to create as many albums as possible. She has spent a long hiatus, like Kendrick, like Adele, dedicated to creating a sound that is faithful to her as well as her fans. She is one of the few genuinely talented pop musicians out there, and the result of her talent is a beautiful, raw, painful, heart wrenching yet fun pop album that will to go down as one of the greats.
(Featured image: genius.com)