Even with the turning wheels of evolution in pop music, the ‘melodic math’ always holds its rules. Max Martin is a highly respected music connoisseur that adheres to the rules and his catalog of hit singles speaks to his ability. Martin stated that ‘Green Light’ – the lead single off Lorde’s new album, Melodrama was an example of incorrect songwriting. Martin was right but it didn’t make Lorde wrong. Lorde might be bad at melodic math but she enjoys her own rules too, it’s the charm of her work.
Lorde presented herself as the anti-pop hero for her big breakout, she used the rules of pop music to play her own game. Pure Heroine, Lorde’s debut album written at age 16 embodies the spirit of a rebellious teen. Lorde wasn’t fighting the zeitgeist, she was simply presenting her realist shade of it. While most youth pop stars bask in glamour and gloss, Lorde showed her anti with matte elegance. Pure Heroine was a collection slow burn songs that reveled in its creator’s feisty character without brimming with unnecessary angst.
The experiences between both of Lorde’s albums is what makes up the material for Melodrama. Most notably, a breakup with her long term boyfriend. Melodrama goes through the motions of post-breakup trauma and drama, while accepting the loneliness. It’s a slow moving rollercoaster ride with a palpable emotional display, complimented by ornate writing. The songs have a vivid prosaic structure underscored by an appreciable level of poetic justice.
Melodrama‘s first single and album opener, ‘Green Light‘ sets the semi-avant, maximalist tone of the album. The ferocity of the big beat song is matched by Lorde’s unflinching coos about the ex. Her stalker-ish and sometimes vindictive enunciation is bound by an underlying sad charm. The sad charm is spun into emotive grace on shorter half of ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless‘ where she exhibits the psycho ex-girlfriend shtick while drawing parallels with her loveless generation.
‘Sober‘ and ‘Sober II‘ are two sides of the loneliness coin. The former is a dancey, soft percussive song where inebriation is the catalyst for catharsis. ‘Sober II‘ is the comedown counterpart, with pensive thoughts like “lights are on and they are gone, who am I?” laid mournfully across the chin down, cinematic feel of the song. The wrenching piano ballad, ‘Liability’ finds Lorde tugging with loneliness as a consequence of her traits.
Melodrama also doubles as a coming of age album, it’s impressive the way Lorde pieces her thoughts together. There’s a reminder that she’s 19 (now 20) is slipped in on the album closer, ‘Perfect Places‘, a track that busts with youthful verve. Melodrama’s major coconspirator, Jack Antonoff (fun. guitarist) helps in binding the album’s color and intimate wistfulness. While Pure Heroine was based lean sonic choices, Melodrama busts around in its rainbow palette.
Melodrama is a dazzling album by a generational talent. A triumph in both style and substance that knows when to stop – 40mins run time, just so you can put it on repeat and want to catch all the feels.
Writer’s Rating: 4.5/5
Words by Dennis (@ayo_dennis).