New Zealand Singer/Songwriter Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor (also know as Lorde) released her second album “Melodrama” in 2017 following her debut “Pure Heroine” in 2013 which saw the song “Royals” become an international hit as she gathered much critical acclaim.
I hadn’t heard much of Lorde since with only a guest appearance on Disclosure’s second album Caracal keeping her in my memory.
“Melodrama” addresses her absence and tells us what she has been going through with a relationship break up being the main event in the 3-4 years that have passed.
Lorde has always come across a little angry and miserable in her music and public persona yet in her live performances she seems very friendly and personable with her display at Glastonbury 2017 being one of the highlights of the event.
With the album being about a break up the opening song gets quickly into that subject with the uplifting “Green Light”. This song made me want to listen to this album and on that evidence as a single release it did it’s job. The song starts off with a melodramatic (no pun intended) piano led verse where she calls out this man who has left her.
The song then has a kicking dance beat which transforms this from bitter ballad to high octane club music. Now I am sure those looking for a weirder and more detailed aspect to Lordes music will perhaps scoff at this song for me it is clearly the best song on the album and by some way.
The rest of this album has nothing that comes close to creating the feeling of this song and whilst in retrospect it essentially acts as an introduction to the album and her state of mind for the project overall it still is by far better than anything else we will hear subsequently.
That’s not to say the rest of the album is crap but even better efforts like “Sober” don’t match up that well. The production here is safe and tired yet it is a track I enjoy and Lorde has a way of talking about her life and relationships that at least keep you interested.
Lyrically there is an abundance of self awareness as her drunk self is almost a character she is playing and she is well aware of it. I do think this is track is stronger than most and certainly it stuck in my head.
It probably doesn’t stick around in my mind as much as the following track “Homemade Dynamite” which even as I type this I am humming the chorus in my head. It’s a slow burner and a little difficult musically to distinguish from the previous track but Lorde’s delivery and lyrics about having fun and just doing all the things she shouldn’t are engaging and proof that she has a talent for songwriting if not a consistent one.
As I pointed out earlier, Lorde comes across in many representations as bit weird and moody. Yet a song like “The Louvre” shows self deprecation and humour of how she acts when she is in love. This song is a chapter of the time she has been away since the last album and how happy she was in this relationship. Melodically I just can’t seem to enjoy the track the chorus sees layered vocals that sound just a but to child like for me.
The fifth track “Liability” is a personal piano ballad. Whilst personal to Lorde this song can be fixed to anyone who feels insecure and whether the lyrics are entirely true the feeling that the person who is saying them is true and this song about feelings as if you are a liability for everyone close to you is hard hitting and painfully sad.
“Hard Feelings/Loveless” shows little diversity in terms of production. In essence since “Green Light” it feels that we have been listening to one long song with different portions as the instrumentation shows little different which I am sure was intended but difficult to take in one sitting.
Whilst this track begins well it starts to wane around the 2 minute mark and there is a need for something else to help move it along and essentially this does happen when the track “Loveless” comes in. Whilst this is down as one long track these are very different songs as “Loveless” is good fun as lyrically things are taking a bitter and twisted turn in this relationship in a song that is almost a taunt.
“Sober II (Melodrama)” begins in the dramatic way that the title suggest. This is a engaging track that is one of the best produced songs on the album. Musically it is layered and rich with atmospheric deepness that takes the first part of “Sober” and turns it into a much more sinister story.
“Writer In The Dark” is one of the big vocal and lyrical performances. This is quite over the top in what she is saying which is about still loving her ex but knows she needs to move forward. I think this is a wonderful play on artists such as Taylor Swift who is happy to air all her dirty laundry in her music in the most brash way whereas Lorde is doing it in a quite beautiful way. There is pain in this song and the piano and strings adds to the feeling that will overcome you when listening.
“Supercut” is the ninth track and the only song which comes close to recapturing the feel of “Green Light” and is certainly much more upbeat that most of the songs we have hear.
Lyrically she is again talking about her sadness that this relationship has been cut short and whilst there were positives the dreams she has have been ended.
I like this song. And whilst I see positives in a number of the tracks on here there are not many songs on this album that I would seek out to play individually. This is one of the them and a highlight of the set.
The penultimate track is “Liability (reprise)” which if you liked “Liability” then this will serve your pleasure even further but if like me you had already had your fill of raw emotion then this offers little.
The final track on “Melodrama” is Perfect Places. This track is set up as being almost anthemic with it’s big Pre Chorus and big electric drums really pushing the song forward. The piano rift keeps the song cohesive as Lorde sings about partying and living a life where these things seem perfect but there are in fact in reality no perfect places.
Like a book or a TV show, if you are interested in the main character then you will find all the stories you are being told fascinating and engaging. This is the same for music and Lorde is simply explaining how she has felt in the intervening years since her last album and in these lyrics we see a great deal of self awareness – even when these things were happening.
I find Lorde interesting to the point that her music is worth a listen but try as I may I just couldn’t find enough excitement in these set of songs to warrant wanting to have this album playing on repeat. The production was often so similar it was hard to distinguish between songs and lyrically the themes whilst honest and raw were ultimately too quickly tired.