Lorde's "Melodrama" is a beautiful musical journey from heartbreak to redemption
Being a fan of Lorde since she dropped Pure Heroine in 2013, I’ve long awaited the release of her latest album, Melodrama. During the four year interim between records, so much has happened. Lorde herself experienced a breakup, became a woman, and starting asking herself the burgeoning question of how to follow-up a first album so wildly popular and revered that David Bowie himself said it sounded like the future of music.
And her fans? They too are now four years older and understand more of life’s heartbreaks. Which is exactly why Lorde’s follow-up to Pure Heroine is the perfect second album. Some heard her first single, “Green Light” and were confused by the piano and other influences on the track, asking, “Where did Lorde go?”
But Melodrama is in itself the answer: Lorde didn’t go anywhere. This is the new Lorde, the four-years-older Lorde, the heartbroken-and-rebuilt Lorde.
An artist must be allowed to experiment, grow, and evolve her sound. And Lorde has done so beautifully.
Melodrama is essentially a cohesive (and endlessly relatable) story, one of a girl who fell madly in love, had her heart broken, and grew into a woman who knew and loved herself more than ever before.
Let’s go through it track by track, shall we?
1. “Green Light”
Both her first single and the first track on the album, “Green Light” sets the tone for the rest of the album both musically and thematically. This whole record is about Lorde finding a sense of closure against the backdrop of youth-infused parties. In the beginning, she’s waiting for it. By the end, she just might have it. (It being, you know, closure.)
A song clearly based on the earlier days of her relationship, we find Lorde singing about themes reminiscent of those on Pure Heroine, yet this song is tinged with a hint of jaded familiarity, particularly in the lines:
3. “Homemade Dynamite”
Definitely one of the more pop-y songs on the record, “Homemade Dynamite” is yet another track that feels very Lorde, and very relatable for other 18 to 20-something year olds.
4. “The Louvre”
Perhaps one of the more feeling-inducing songs on the record, “The Louvre” feels like an ode to her ex lover, reminding us all of what it felt like in the beginning of our favorite whirlwind romance of yore. It seems meta to me, in a sense — she’s saying (rather than singing, really) “broadcast the boom, boom, boom, boom and make ’em all dance to it” and by “it” it feels as though she’s referring to Pure Heroine itself.
Another track we were all treated to before the album’s release, “Liability” is the least “typical” Lorde (if we’re going to generalize her sound based off of her first record alone). It’s slow, and it’s sad, but I love that Lorde is opening up to her listeners with such vulnerability, both in sound and lyricism:
6. “Hard Feelings / Loveless”
This is my absolute favorite song on the record. It’s dynamic, it’s catchy, and it’s lyrically moving. But it also shows a turning point in Lorde’s breakup, from heartbreak to healing.
Other standout lyrics?
If you’ve felt that before, been in that moment where you’re in a car with your ex- or soon-to-be-ex lover, feeling the emptiness between you where once was love… those lines cut deep.
And what’s special about “Hard Feelings / Loveless” is that it goes into a second song within the same track. The contrasting sounds and attitudes make them a perfect dichotomy. She goes from sincerity to an untouchable coyness, calling out her generation’s lovelessness, crooning, “Look out, lovers.”
7. “Sober II (Melodrama)”
A call back to the second song on the album, we experience “Sober” this time in a melancholic way, marking how far Lorde has come in her journey, as well as marking where the album is changing direction.
8. “Writer in the Dark”
Probably my second favorite track, “Writer in the Dark” is a self-confident ode to oneself post-breakup. “But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power / I’ll find a way to be without you, babe,” Lorde sings. Lorde shared with NPR about this song:
From bitter to sweet, Supercut is all about the best moments from a relationship you remember once the ugliness of a breakup fades.
10. “Liability (Reprise)”
Again, this reprise feels like a clear turning point in the album, from feeling slighted, to feeling secure in the changes she’s going through.
11. “Perfect Places”
Perhaps in the loveliest Lorde fashion, the album ends on a culturally-aware yet base-thumping party track. “Perfect Places” laments the turbulent times we’re currently in, while indulging in the beautiful carelessness of youth.
Lorde points out in her annotations of these lyrics that her inability to be alone with herself was a big influence in this record:
And what 20-something who has been through the worst heartbreak of their life can’t relate to that?
Ultimately, that’s what Lorde gives to us on this record: A vulnerability that we can all relate to and take solace in. On this album, Lorde is unapologetic; unapologetic about being too much, feeling too much, or even partying too much.