Let's Talk About How Good This Lorde Album Could Actually Be

Written By Sam Murphy on 05/03/2017

Image: Twitter

At the end of last year when murmurings of a new Lorde album arose, we couldn't care less. It had been three years since her debut album Pure Heroine which was promising but not perfect and all we'd seen of her were snaps on Taylor Swift's instagram.

Then came Green Light, the boldest and most forward-thinking pop song of the year. Lorde's always spoken the language of ambition but rarely has she been able to translate that into her music. On Green Light, she's ambitious, fearless, comfortable and displaced and it's all bottled into an extraordinary four minutes, crafted with Jack Antonoff, her musical partner for this record.

Max Martin called the song "incorrect songwriting," in the nicest way possible, giving the sense that not even his mathematical pop equation could churn out something this brilliant. It's a weird song but one that proved that Lorde was more than a one hit wonder and more than a popstar.

She announced Melodrama, covered by a hand-painted Sam Mckinniss artwork. It's an album that centres around her, "first major heartbreak," as she told Zane Lowe, and reads like a night at a party from the euphoria to the 3am sadness. It's not a revolutionary concept but it's Lorde's delivery that's going to sell it, something that she proved on the second taste of the record Liability, a ballad that poignantly captures that moment where as a 20-something, you feel as if you're becoming overbearing.

To live in between albums, Lorde escaped back to New Zealand, her home country, and it seems that's made all the difference. The brilliant thing about her songwriting is she's writing from the perspective of a 20 year-old, not an artist who has let the industry grow her up prematurely.

Lorde's performances have always drawn attention, mostly for her off kilter dancing but her first performance on Saturday Night Live saw her adopt a new theatricality. During Green Light she let loose and in Liability, she sat back to back with Jack Antonoff dressed in a wedding gown.

A few weeks ago she took to Coachella, performing arguably her biggest set yet and she looked like a giant. A popstar able to compete with the gigantics like Lady Gaga and Rihanna. She debuted new song Homemade Dynamite, a slinky, dark pop song that combines smart songwriting with familiar melodies. It's reaction was so immediate that it could well become the most successful single off Melodrama.

A few days before that, she debuted another album track Sober at a small show in LA. "Jack and Jill get possessive and fucked up when they get down," she sings as the beat drops out, humorously and hauntingly adapting fairytales to song. It's a kind of weird darkness that only Lorde could write into a pop song.

“With a party, there’s that moment where a great song comes on and you’re ecstatic,” she told the New York Times about the album, “and then there’s that moment later on where you’re alone in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, you don’t think you look good, and you start feeling horrible.” In just four songs she's managed to capture that juxtaposition but the album's surely going to dig further into that theme. And that's exciting.

Exciting because pop music is in a weird place right now. It's political and over-bearing. Katy Perry is making purposeful pop, Harry Styles is channelling the '70s to make social comment and Kendrick Lamar is bagging number ones.

But finally, here's an album about being 20. About partying, loving and learning narrated by someone who is not satisfied until she's pushed the envelope a little too far. She gets that pop music needs to be immediate but she also gets that it can go deeper.

“A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck,” she told the New York Times and it's that understanding that may just make Melodrama the best album of the year.

We'll find out when it drops 16th June.