Thursday, 22 June 2017

Lorde - Melodrama

Lorde - Melodrama

"The thing with house parties," I was once told, "is that you have to leave at the right time." It's true: leave too early and you miss the fun, leave too late and you either sober up or end up a mess.

So where does that leave us with Lorde's 'Melodrama'? The New Zealand star's second album revolves around the loose narrative of a house party, but it's one you'll want to leave sooner rather than later. 

Lead single Green Light wasn't quite the comeback we expected from Lorde, what with its clashing sections, "incorrect" songwriting (according to Max Martin at least), and a chorus that lacks the nagging hook it desperately needs. Sober bristles with sexual tension - "my hips have missed your hips," she sings over muted beats - and while it doesn't quite reach a climax, it does epitomise Lorde's offbeat pop. Homemade Dynamite, written with Tove Lo, is all jerky beats and slow motion dancing that goes hand-in-hand with the Swede's own work. Together these tracks make for a tantalising opening.

With The Louvre, Lorde dips her toe into...well...melodrama, as she compares her relationship to art. It's overblown, but the lyric "they'll hang us in the Louvre, down the back but who cares - still the Louvre" is kind of amazing. Liability is the album's key ballad and marks a different sound for Lorde - a piano ballad that's an ode to the weirdo at the party. It's clearly a personal track for her, perhaps reflecting on her fame with lines like "I am a toy that people enjoy 'til all of the tricks don't work anymore and then they are bored of me". It's also your cue to leave.

No really. Leave at this point and you can say you've had a very nice time thank you very much but I'm going to head home now before everyone starts crying and throwing up on themselves.

From here on out we're in full on melodramatic territory. Hard Feelings details a breakup with lyrics that read like a stream of consciousness and writing that lacks a proper melody; its second part is Loveless where Lorde claims we're the "L.O.V.E.L.E.S.S generation" like some precocious Messiah - we can only presume she's drunk and preaching while balancing on a kitchen stool by this point, a tequila shot quivering in her gesticulating hand.

Writer In The Dark is perhaps the hardest song to swallow, seemingly proving that Lorde has been hanging out with Taylor Swift too long. "Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark," she spitefully snarls, but without the humour that Swift brought to Blank Space. She later reprises Liability with sombre electronic production and autotune, presumedly sobbing to herself curled up in the corner. You should avoid her on your way out.

All this is to say that Lorde seems to have focused far more on the concept of the album rather than the actual writing. Offbeat pop can still have a hook - Max Martin was right after all.

Leave early, though, and you'll miss the album's best song, Perfect Places, which is Lorde finally offering the pop banger we all want so badly. It's got the clipped beats we expect, a giddy rush of a pre-chorus ("let's get lost tonight"), and a chorus that soars. Its message is a poignant one: that the euphoria of drugs and partying is all a fa├žade, which somewhat undermines the melodrama of the album's narrative. Or perhaps Lorde knew that all along, the album's title a knowing nod to that fact.

Still, in the context of the album Perfect Places sounds like a last hurrah to celebrate the end of the night - most likely the moment you're going home, exhausted.

3/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Sober
* Homemade Dynamite
* Perfect Places

Listen: 'Melodrama' is out now.