When up-and-coming pop artist Ella Yelich-O’Connor — known to the world now as Lorde — entered the music scene back in Spring of 2013, there was no telling that this New Zealand-native would soon evolve into one of the industry’s most dynamic players. With her dramatic debut album, ‘Pure Heroine,’ taking the world by storm, her angelic, tormented vocals echoing off a melancholy techno-beat, the then-16-year-old crafted an ambitious curveball to toss into the pop genre. Four years later, it seems O’Connor aimed to up the ante with ‘Melodrama.’ A passionate, regretful portrait of temptation and self-doubt, Lorde’s second record delivers a mature and fascinating peek inside the mindset of a teenager set ablaze.
Calling Lorde a teenager now, however, would be a mistake. Evident in the darker, more revealing ‘Melodrama,’ the pop artist has grown from the naive but observant 16-year-old she was before, into an emotional victim of drunken nights and broken hearts. With her new album teeming with spell-binding narratives of unruly nights of partying and the consequences that unfold the morning after, Lorde has gained a unique and evocative voice beyond the one she gave us in ‘Pure Heroine.’ While ‘Heroine’ might have shown the artist recalling her New Zealand days while covertly critiquing mainstream culture, ‘Melodrama’ boasts more about the regrets and anxieties of a fleeting adolescence.
Even as the opening hit ‘Green Light’ bangs at the door of modern pop, with its catchy, masterfully strung-together piano chords and vibrant rave setting, the rest of the album does a phenomenal job at portraying just how vivid Lorde’s fleeting days of youth truly are, as they race past her like the distant city skyline. Kicking off the regretful yet melancholy tone of the album with ‘Sober,’ Lorde transports us into her flickering thoughts during a night on the town. As we fly past the distant memories of innocent youth in ‘Homemade Dynamite,’ we land hard on the backdrop of heartbreak, as ‘Liability’ sends up a David Bowie-esque ballad about short-lived love. All the while, we sit entranced by the echoic, techno-infused melodies blurring the background.
Taking us on this journey, one crafted ever-so-elegantly as she toured both the world and all its unforgiving imperfections, Lorde manages to bump shoulders with the likes of other modern pop icons like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, but never falls into the full mix of semi-uninspired rave hits. Even while she employs the aid of fellow songwriter Jack Antonoff of ‘Bleachers,’ Lorde’s music resonates beyond simple, repetitive tracks, and is imbued with a greater sense of radiant personality from the growing artist.
Exploring herself and the world around her even further in the four years since her debut, pop queen Lorde delivers a much-welcomed return to the sensitive but spirited voice of ‘Pure Heroine’ with the fluorescent ‘Melodrama.’ Teeming with emotional significance and even more mystical lyricism, the 20-year-old shows no signs of letting heartbreak stand in the way of stardom.
‘Melodrama’ is available in stores and for download now.