By Chris Zuver, A and E Editor
It has been four years since pop singer Lorde’s debut LP “Pure Heroine” was released. At the age of 16, her hit song “Royals” made her the youngest solo artist to have a single chart at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1987.
Finally, she has returned from hiatus with her follow up: “Melodrama.” With this release, she faces the largest challenge for any artist in the mainstream music industry – the sophomore hurdle. While this does not always ruin an artist’s career, a sloppy sequel can often spell disaster for a fledgling musician’s future.
While this second album has yet to produce a crossover superhit like her 2013 effort, “Melodrama” is by no means a flub. Quite the opposite, actually. Lorde, with the help of co-writer Jack Antonoff, has created something that proves that she is more than a flash in the proverbial pan and shows signs of her maturing as a songwriter.
While “Pure Heroine” was more of a patchwork of singles from earlier EPs, mixed in with some filler songs, this new album feels much more focused and contains a loose concept between each song. In other words, “Pure Heroine” was an album by a youth on the verge of success, while “Melodrama” is about the mind of the young artist in the wake of that success. While this story is far from unheard of in the music industry, Lorde’s sophomore return is certainly a well-made testament to such a situation.
“Melodrama” continues down the synthesizer-heavy electronic pop route Lorde had set out on from the beginning. Her voice is unique and passionate in its own quirky way, weaving its path through simple grooves, crescendos, and massive choruses with stacked harmonies. The songs range from inner-musings like “Liability” and “Writer in the Dark” – to pulsing, flirty numbers such as “Homemade Dynamite” and “Sober.” All of them tell the story of an artist troubled by fame and fleeting relationships.
The real gem in the lot is “Liability,” which features only a piano and Lorde’s voice. She sings about failed relationships, and how her fame has become a burden when it comes to dealing with those close to her. In the song, she admits, “the truth is I am a toy that people enjoy/ ‘Til all of the tricks don’t work anymore/ And then they are bored of me.”
“Green Light,” the lead single and opening track, is a nice and upbeat intro for the album, but serves better as a first track than a stand-alone song, as there is not much depth to it. Additionally, there are other moments that seem out of place, such as “Hard Feelings/Loveless,” which starts with a progressive, slow number about a breakup, yet is followed by a hypnotic dance-break where lines such as “L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S” are repeated for two minutes, resulting in an awkward ending to an otherwise decent track. Similarly, the final track, “Perfect Places” simply disappoints as an ending because it is just too repetitive and dull.
Regardless of a few setbacks, this album is a great foot forward for the young artist, and very accessible for listeners. One of the greatest things about these songs is that you do not have to be a fan of pop to be a fan of the Lorde. She truly is a performer whose music crosses the aisle to music fans from all walks of life. With very few caveats to find even worth mentioning, I recommend this album to anyone who is reading this, and anyone who has access to music.