Lorde – Melodrama (2017)

Thank you Garrett for recommending Melodrama for review!

It took Lorde just two albums to drop a pop masterpiece. Melodrama is a perfect pop experience. It has a consistent, nocturnal, and dark theme that all the components of the album work toward. Each song is uniquely written and progresses in an exciting way that keeps the album enjoyable on repeated listens. On Pure Heroine, Lorde was commended for writing an album that resonated so strongly with young people and teenagers. As Lorde has grown into early adulthood, she has done it again. Melodrama is a perfectly told story about dating, breakups, and social interactions in general for the millennial generation in 2017. Songwriting has always been one of Lorde’s strength, and she continues to excel on Melodrama. Even on its own, this album would be a stunning achievement. However, one of the most exciting parts of Melodrama is the clear growth in sound Lorde has undergone. There are a lot of Kate Bush comparisons to be made in Melodrama, especially on tracks like “Writer in the Dark”. Lorde establishes herself as a force to be reckoned within the pop world with Melodrama – I simply cannot find any flaws with this album.

Melodrama is astounding in the way that it balances consistency and diversity. The atmosphere and theme is undoubtedly nocturnal, dramatic, and sad. While the atmosphere is perfectly consistently throughout, each song is decidedly its own. Lorde makes sure, lyrically and sonically, that each song here fits into the atmosphere she has created for the album but still sounds fresh and unique. Compare the self-deprecation on the piano ballad “Liability” to the self-reflection on the bouncy “Supercut”. Notice how the anxiety that is persistent in “Sober” turns explosive on the next track “Homemade Dynamite”. There is an astounding attention to detail in creating the atmosphere of Melodrama in a meaningful, consistent, and thorough manner. Every part of the album works to hold up and justify this atmosphere.

Lyrically, Lorde takes just a little over 40 minutes to paint a nearly complete picture of what failing relationships look like in 2017. She remains personal but relevant to her audience throughout. “Sober” is the relationship that only exists to support Lorde’s partying lifestyle. “Supercut” is probably one of my favorite songs on the album, and it’s a perfect anthem for the social anxiety that grips so much of the millennial generation. “Supercut” is a song about relationship highlight reels. Lorde laments a dying relationship that she is only holding onto because she is constantly playing the highlights of the relationship over and over again in her head. This is made easier every day for people as social media exists mostly to create these highlight reels. It’s becoming harder and harder to build relationships organically – everyone expects highlight reels. Lorde calls out this audience specifically and invites her audience to join her in “Loveless”. She claims her generation is the “L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S generation” and is masochistic in the way she claims that she likes dramatic relationships. She asserts that she can’t find love because love doesn’t create the instant gratification she is addicted to in the same way melodrama does. It’s a brilliant, nuanced statement on what so many different types of relationships are in 2017.

Yet, Melodrama is still a pop album and it’s relevant to discuss just how wonderfully catchy this lyrically dark album is. Each song is a treat, with catchy choruses, great delivery from Lorde, and little instrumental details that often push the song over the top. I can’t imagine “Sober” without the perfect horns carrying the chorus, the outro of “The Louvre” is a beautiful piece that sounds like something out of an 80s movie, the sassy voice Lorde takes on in “Loveless” is absolutely perfect for the theme of that song… I could go on and on listing little touches I love in each song. My main point here is that Melodrama would have still been an immensely satisfying pop listen if each line was gibberish – that’s just how catchy and wonderful to listen to it is.

Despite all this, after a ton of listens to Melodrama, I am most impressed with the art pop influences Lorde brings into this album. I am not the first to compare a number of songs on Melodrama to Kate Bush, and these comparisons are completely justified. “Writer in the Dark” is the perfect example of this, and it’s one of my favorite tracks. The progression of this song is brilliant, I love the two-sided chorus, and the interplay between the piano and strings in the chorus is gorgeous. This is straight art pop, and it’s a far cry from many of the other songs on Melodrama and especially Pure Heroine. Lorde pulls this song off wonderfully, and the prospect of her moving in a more art pop direction is exciting. Even if her next album moves in a different direction, it’s evident that Lorde clearly prioritizes innovating and changing her sound and its bodes extremely well for her career. For the purposes of this review, the art pop influences and fresh sound Lorde has created for Melodrama only continues to add to its greatness.

I don’t have anything negative to say about Melodrama. I could sit here and nitpick lines or hooks that I think are better or worse than others, but as a cohesive experience, Melodrama is perfect. It has a consistent but progressing theme and atmosphere that is perfectly relevant for Lorde’s generation. The songs are absurdly catchy, unique, and full of little touches that show a clear attention to detail. Lorde has grown and matured lyrically and sonically, and she has shown that she is concerned with and interested in maturing and refining her sound over time. Melodrama is gorgeous, can’t miss, magnificent pop music.

9/10

I’m almost certain this will one day have a place in my 10/10s.

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