On Lorde’s Album ‘Melodrama’

Find What You Love and Let It Kill You

By Ali Weber

At age 20, Lorde has released her second studio album, entitled Melodrama, following her first album Pure Heroine, a dizzying recollection of her early teen years. Melodrama chronicles her journey in adolescence, including romance, self-growth, and ultimately finding a place in the world. The cover for the album is graced with a portrait of Lorde herself, lying in bed, painted with soft, warm tones contrasted by a harsh blue. The cover art is reminiscent of the songs on the album, portraying uplifting pop melodies partnered with sharply honest lyrics. For example, over a hopeful beat in the beginning of “Perfect Places,” she says, “If they keep telling me where to go, I’ll blow my brains out to the radio.” Ultimately, the cover art mirrors the tone the album sets, and serves as an appropriate pre-cursor to the sound of the album.

Lorde perfectly encapsulates young life while remaining reminiscent of an older generation. For example, in the song “Loveless,” she states, “Bet you wanna rip my heart out, bet you wanna skip my calls now, well guess what? I like that.” Creating an almost carelessly passionate mood, this serves to create the feeling for the beginning of “Sober II.” The album has an older aura to it, almost like the soundtrack to an old 80’s movie. The main attraction of the album is Lorde’s voice, soft but stubborn, often light and breathy in contrast to harsh instrumental accompaniment. She balances out heavy beats with intricate harmonies (which admittedly, she does extremely well). Although in technical terms, she may not be the best singer, her voice appropriately reflects her music, creating a particularly entrancing sound.

On the topic of lyrics, which Lorde has a particular talent for creating, she makes even the deadliest situations sound romantic. For example, in “Homemade Dynamite,” she says, “Might get your friend to drive, but he can hardly see. We’ll end up painted on the road, red and chrome, all the broken glass sparkling. I guess we’re partying.” Her meticulous choice of words sets the tone for the remainder of the song: tragic, romantic, and dangerous. In other songs, such as “The Louvre,” she begins the song with a metaphor, “Well summer slipped us underneath her tongue…” and goes on to recall a lover and their experiences together. In summary, Lorde has a talent for using lyrics to set the mood for a song, transporting the listener to her world.

Overall, it may be said that Lorde really has found what she loves and let it kill her. To me, it means fully experiencing life, and then encapsulating it in something inanimate and constant, like an album. Melodrama is a romantic recollection of experiences from Lorde’s young adulthood that is truly a work of art in its own right.

Photo: Lorde – Melodrama by Boy Barinador on Flickr