Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Lorde - Pure Heroine

For all intents and purposes, 16 year old New Zealander Lorde is this year’s Lana Del Rey.  In part this is due to their similarly breathy, nonchalant vocal styles, but most of all it’s for their position in the industry.  As Del Rey was last year, Lorde is the buzz artist of 2013; the bloggers’ favourite; the hyped up popstar-who’s-far-too-cool-to-be-a-popstar, with a calculated persona manufactured by the record company.  Yet, just as with ‘Born To Die’, ‘Pure Heroine’ is a singular vision that’s likely to be one of the most talked about albums of the year – for better or for worse.

A key difference, however, is Lorde’s forward thinking production.  Where Del Rey looked to past glamour for inspiration, ‘Pure Heroine’ is utterly contemporary.  Influenced by electro and hip-hop, the moody production is stark and minimalist: all clipped hip-hop beats, icy synths and rumbling bass lines.  It’s cold, perhaps even heartless, yet full of snarling attitude and cool.  Individually, the tracks aren’t overly distinct from one another, but taken as a whole ‘Pure Heroine’ has a unique aesthetic.

The prevailing mood is one of boredom – obvious from the opening lyric, “don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk?”.  Lorde’s vocal aches with teenage ennui, lazily singing melodies like she couldn’t care less, contrasting with the sharp production.  This sense of boredom translates as youthful cool – from the school stereotypes of Tennis Court (“baby be the class clown, I’ll be the beauty queen in tears…let’s go down to the tennis court and talk it up like yeah”), to the repeated line “I’m kinda over being told to throw my hands up in the air” on Team.  Not only does this reflect rebellious youth, it’s a rebellion against current EDM trends as paralleled by the production.

Yet how much of this rebellious, youthful attitude is really authentic?  And, quite frankly, does it matter?  Lorde might be posing as a popstar for hipsters but, as worldwide smash Royals proves, she’s more than capable of delivering an icily cool, hook-laden pop song.  The rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to the title’s promise as the pure saviour of contemporary music, but ‘Pure Heroine’ is certainly a trend-setting album for pop fans who are too cool to actually follow trends.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Tennis Court
* Royals
* Team

Listen: 'Pure Heroine' is released in the UK on October 28th.