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Lorde - Melodrama (Album Review)

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 Written by Huw Baines

One of the first things we do when we run into an old friend is take inventory of what’s changed. When Lorde stepped back into the room at the start of March with Green Light’s piano line in tow, it became clear that it would be the differences in her music, not what had stayed the same, that might sweep us from our feet the second time around.

From the way the vivid blue of the sleeve stands apart from the monochrome styling of ‘Pure Heroine’ through its ebullient delivery, ‘Melodrama’ is the work of someone documenting their now, not attempting to remodel past influences or successes. In doing so, Lorde has created not only a fabulous, nuanced record but also a stirring second chapter that furthers her story in ways that her (very good) debut was not equipped to.

‘Melodrama’ is a break-up record that thrives at emotional extremes. Straight out of the gate you have Green Light’s self-policing anxiety - at embracing the freedom of a severed relationship - placed next to Sober’s creeping realisation that tomorrow isn’t an abstract concept.

One moment there “ain’t a pill that could touch our rush”, but only seconds later we’re bereft: “In the morning, you'll be dancing with all the heartache and the treason, the fantasies of leaving.”

Both songs display a willingness to go off-script musically. ‘Pure Heroine’ was fascinating in its investigation of downbeat pop as the basis for anthemic hooks, but ‘Melodrama’ adroitly skips over those blueprints in favour of something more expressive.

Written alongside Jack Antonoff, of Bleachers and Fun., it is home to a bunch of curveballs carried off with great style. Lorde’s voice is malleable and powerful, allowing her to inhabit the thrilling highs and debilitating lows inked in by her words. We’ve not heard the timbre of Hard Feelings from her before, neither have we experienced a tangled web like Writer in the Dark, which drips with animosity and hurt in equal measure.

The lyrics here are dexterous, piercing and eminently quotable. Lorde takes universal truths and experiences - creaking self-confidence, night out tipping points, the buds of new love - and makes them feel hyperreal. People don’t talk like they do in the movies and they don’t express themselves like Lorde does through her writing: it’s a thrill to be in her orbit. “But we’re the greatest,” she sings at one point. “They’ll hang us in the Louvre. Down the back, but who cares? Still the Louvre.”

Lorde invites us in at every opportunity. She is expunging her experiences through celebratory pop, but there is also a real sense of empathy with her listeners, many of whom will have their own lost evenings and heartbreaks to add to the album's ledger. That comes to the fore on Liability, a song that lays bare insecurity in a manner that's absolutely disarming. It's another stylistic departure, a spare piano ballad, and a gut punch. "They say, 'You're a little much for me, you're a liability, you're a little much for me,'" Lorde sings. "So they pull back, make other plans. I understand, I'm a liability."

‘Melodrama’ is a record that strives to deliver grand, sweeping gestures and succeeds in doing so. Lorde paints each emotional swing in vivid detail, from a yawning black chasm between exes to shaking off the shame reaching out from a puddle of street lit puke, and lets us feel every fizzing high or stinging regret. She reminds us how it feels to be young, imperfect and alive.

Lorde Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue September 26 2017 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Wed September 27 2017 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Sat September 30 2017 - BRIGHTON Centre
Sun October 01 2017 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Mon October 02 2017 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow

Click here to compare & buy Lorde Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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