When she first appeared on the scene back in 2013 and made waves with her track “Royals”, Lorde came across as rather quiet and subdued. On Melodrama, her second album, it would appear she’s undergone a complete personality change and been replaced by someone who could quite easily be the life and soul of any party.
Gone are the days and the songs of semi-self wallowing and instead, in their place, she’s created a collection that charts her way into true adulthood, which makes sense she’s now 20. Beginning with “Green Light”, complete with its unusual key change and a beat that’s almost as jerky and flexible as someone doing the Gangnam Style dance, things get off to a fantastic start and, with festival season well and truly underway, the song is a perfect piece to lose yourself in as you stand, sway, or hell, even get drunk in a massive crowd of people somewhere – anywhere – in the world.
“Sober” is a strong follow-up, although asking a partner/lover what happens when the buzz fades then making listeners wait several songs for the answer, which appears on “Sober II (Melodrama)” might put some (though I doubt not many) fans off. “The Louvre”, co-written, as is almost every track on the album, with Jack Antonoff, is a particular highlight, focused around a brief romance that’s destined not to go anywhere. Opening with just Lorde’s voice and a guitar rhythm, some listeners might be forgiven for thinking the track is somewhat lacklustre, however, as it progresses, it builds into a swirling storm of electro-pop almost certain to find itself put on repeat.
Asking herself if she’s too complicated/messed up a person to find love, there’s an almost uncomfortable relatability to “Liability” that makes the song almost heart-wrenching to listen to more than a couple of times in one go. It’s not that often that Lorde tests her vocal range, but she does just that on the six-plus minute piece that is “Hard Feelings/Loveless”, while “Writer In The Dark” is about writing songs about an ex – but don’t worry, it’s not written a la Taylor Swift, so you (and I) can breathe a sigh of relief.
There’s a dance beat to “Supercut” that had this reviewer blaring it while getting ready for an afternoon party at my sister’s house so it’s perfect for playing on a drive with your friends or getting glammed up for a night out with the girls. If there’s any low point on the album it comes via “Liability (Reprise)” which clocks in at just over two minutes and slows things right down to the point where it risks putting listeners to sleep – only Lorde’s vocal, packed with emotion and what comes across as sentimentality, makes it worthy of playing right through. Closing number “Perfect Places” ups the tempo again – at least for the most part – so it might come as a surprise to some to hear the rhythm slow and a piano close out the song.
There’s an edginess to Lorde’s song-writing that sets her apart, and while her first album did a fairly good job of showcasing what she’s capable of, on Melodrama, almost every track – and every word – vibrates with power and passion: it’s as if this young woman has finally, and well and truly, found her voice and now she’s sharing such more proudly than ever with the world.