[ALBUM REVIEW: “MELODRAMA” (2017, LORDE)]
If you’re a straight man who just started seeing a woman who suddenly declares in one of your conversations that she’s a liability, and that she thought people treat her like a toy, run while you still can! Unless you’re into damaged girl drama, and unless she’s Lorde singing in one of her tracks from the album “Melodrama”, now stay.
I trust we’re on the same page so you’d probably remember her like I do as the girl who made us sing along, or hum along at least to – “But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece; Jetplanes, islands, tigers on a gold leash; We don’t care; We aren’t caught up in your love affair.”
Yes, these words are taking you back now to 2013 when Lorde was still in her teens and just launched the charming angst-driven album “Pure Heroine”, and with it, the chart-topper “Royals”. This is not an album review that will give you side notes on why it took her four years to come up with a second album, and what went on in the studio while she was recording it because who knows, right? Entertainment Weekly, or her FB page probably. But this is going to tell you why “Melodrama” is worth the wait, and a slot at the saved playlist on your phone.
First and foremost, this new album will not alienate you from this adult Lorde because she still sounds familiar — deep, smoky, as if casting a silent spell on you; she now writes more openly revealing much of herself and sharing more to her listeners, and if you’re a Lorde newbie, you might find a few suggestions later on on how to listen to her without getting too high and then losing yourself in the process. Let’s stay sober together, shall we?
While she appropriately opens with a statement about her new found fame and how “it’s a new art form showing people how little we care (yeah)” in “Tennis Court”, the first track off her 2013 debut album, this 2017 “Melodrama” as the title suggests is a more personal re-introduction to the still anti-pop pop artist Lorde.
This is an older Lorde speaking now, and this is how adulthood is coming along for her as far as her relationships and non-relationships are concerned — she opens with “Green Light”, a track that speaks about eagerly waiting to hear a “go” at moving on, someone who wants to rebuild herself from a heartbreak which she wrote in a non-whiny manner. The beat is danceable in an almost joyous inviting way, probably mimicking that indescribable feeling that falls between fear and excitement of crossing paths with the bastard that broke your heart.
Lorde listeners would know that she has a fixation with teeth, and now with light as well. For teeth, the unwashed and biting type; As for light, the blinding one that greets you when you’re just about to go home at 6am (Philippine timezone) after a long night of drinking.
If you have Spotify, the “Melodrama” track list displays the songs in this order:
Green Light, Sober, Homemade Dynamite, The Louvre, Liability, Hard Feelings/Loveless, SoberII (Melodrama)…okay, hold it! I’m admittedly one of those few idiots who can’t make sense out of tracks being labeled “I” or “II”, or the science behind pacing tracks for an album, but if you read closely from Spotify, “SoberII” is also labeled “Explicit” so perhaps that’s the sense of it. But my point actually, it doesn’t make sense for me that “SoberII (Sober2)” was placed almost way below the playlist because it could have been the perfect opening track if you’re really going for a melodramatic pacing.
The song opens with a simple keyboard work reminiscent of a certain Beyonce Sasha Fierce track (I read somewhere that there were actual Beyonce producers who worked with Lorde in this album, but I’ll leave that to your googling skills and discretion) what follows is a bare display of Lorde’s now maturing deeper vocal register backed-up by minimal piano works which progresses to the integration of bass and drum beats that make up for again, a perfect opening drama. “Sober” without a “II” on the other hand, has a more electronic feel to it that transitions to a full danceable club track. I could just easily pace the two one after the other in my own track list but then again, that’s just me.
If by now you are following the original track pacing of “Melodrama”, then let me welcome you to the next track, “Homemade Dynamite”. Now, grab a drink if you can because this easily forgettable track is just for that purpose, so drink up! If you’re lucky enough to actually be able to grab a drink, keep that glass, bottle, or can in hand because the house party vibe carries on till “The Louvre”. If you admire bass lines, keep this track playing. Hit the repeat button if you’re that bored with life, or if you can relate to a girl singing about a high point in her relationship. Congratulations to you then.
But let me take you to the more charming pieces of this album, the ones that spell out to you the core vibe of “Melodramatic”, and they are “Liability”, “Hard Feelings/Loveless”, “Writer in the Dark”, “Supercut” and “Perfect Places”.
Don’t take the simplicity of “Liability” for granted, like an average bastard would to a woman crying out – “So they pull back, make other plans
I understand, I’m a liability.”
Lorde’s signature odd phrasing is crystal clear in this piano-driven track. Play it once more, and then once more, and then over and over again, and you might find yourself practicing self-love.
By now you should realize that there’s no “Royals” type inside “Melodrama” as if it needs one, but if you insist, “Hard Feelings/Loveless”, a dual song if that’s how to call these back-to-back tracks, are as radio-friendly.
In “Hard Feelings”, the Lorde sings —“Please could you be tender
And I will sit close to you
Let’s give it a minute before we admit that we’re through”
Can you get anymore radio-friendly pop pathetic than that? She finishes off with “Loveless” thus declaring, we are, or this generation is actually “L-o-v-e-l-e-s-s”.
If you just got your heart broken, don’t ever come near, “Writer in the Dark”. Lorde’s grief-stricken singing here is not gonna help you reflect on your sadness in a positive light, if anything, it will help you die a quick death by hurting yourself, or worse, you might drunk dial your ex. But if you managed to stay alive, you might find yourself creating a meme out of – “I’ll love you till my breathing stops. I’ll love you till you call the cops on me. But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power
I’ll find a way to be without you, babe.”
Now it’s time to recover from the pain with “Supercut” and “Perfect Places”. Enough of me converting you into a lyric freak, enjoy the techno vibe of these two tracks, play them back-to-back, dance along, drench your heart in wine, or whatever. Wake up alive the following day. Repeat. If you need parting words from me saying that this is a great album…well…you’re probably as numb, and as bad a lover as Lorde’s bastard ex who made her put major pop drama in “Melodrama”
Note: This review first appeared on my music review site, yanimusic.wordpress.com.