For the last few months, I have not had the ability to avoid the presence of the New Zealand born siren known as Lorde. Every time I put on the radio - she is there. Turn on the TV - she is there. I am scared to go into my wardrobe in case the album turns up, staring at me like some sort of horror villain. Now, the reason she is everywhere is the release of her second album 'Melodrama', an album which has been receiving praise from all corners of the planet. In fact, the volume of praise has outstripped that of her first album 'Pure Heroine', an album which I found average, but which also hinted at hope for the future (you can read my full review here). Whilst some of those songs were a little dull, you could sense a talent that was bubbling underneath and would (fingers crossed) reach the surface. This album was produced by Lorde with the help of Jack Antonoff of the Bleachers (a current favourite of mine), with some other producers adding their spice to the mix as well. It is not quite a multi-produced album (something I tend to avoid), but it does look like it could fall into that category. So, how has the sophomore album turned out?
01 - Green Light
A tale of a lover spurred opens this album, it has such a bitter and angry tale to tell that it should come with a health warning. When a relationship ends, they sometimes end on a bitter note and revenege is the dish of the day with this break up, with it being served as cold as possibly. This song is pure, unbridled and simmering pain that just oozes anger and it has some of the best put downs I have heard in a pop song in quite a few decades.
02 - Sober
'Sober' seems to be a song about missing the first months of a relationship, that time when you cannot keep your hands off each other, every day is a weekend and you are drunk in love. It is a loose song with a minimalist backing, it focuses on the vocals, the bass is so subtle and the main instrument of the song, Lorde sounds phenomenal here and the song is a hypnotic anthem.
03 - Homemade Dynamite
A song about an explosive friendship/relationship that can start a party in an empty room, when everything is an adventure and the night is full of possibilities, this is the sort of pop song that I love. It has a lot of swearing, it has a fantastic backing music, the vocals are subtle and it all comes together in a fantastic package of joy. It is the best song on the album, it is a top draw number!
04 - The Louvre
We are still in the throes of young love here; the relationship is so powerful that it could be seen an artistic statement that could be placed in the famous Parisian gallery and people would flock to it. As statements go, it is a bit of an overexertion, but in the context of the album this statement makes a lot of sense. It is a good number, keeping everything simple and continuing the positive start of the album.
05 - Liability
The relationship has hit rocky ground already by the time 'Liability' starts, to be honest it feels like the heart is being stamped on again and again and again! If you think the first ten minutes of John Wick, then you might be about a tenth of the way of the heartache on this song. It is a piano driven number, it hurts to listen to at times with the beauty of a broken mirror. I love it, but it is a dark number.
06 - Hard Feelings/Loveless
Two songs joined into one, making a monster six-minute track on a pop album which is a dangerous thing. It is an ambitious song that aims for dizzy heights, but to be honest it does not quite make it. The first is cutting up the end of a relationship from the other side of the pain, seeing how everything fell and adding labels to it. The second half spents it brief existence denying those feelings and looking at society as a whole, but sounding like a conversation that you half hear in a coffee shop. But both sides feel unnatural against each other, the join is not right and it is the first point of the album to jar the overall experience. A good shot, but not quite there.
07 - Sober II (Melodrama)
The party is truly over on 'Sober II (Melodrama)', the lights are on and everything needs to be tidied up. It has huge string sections, there is a sense of emptiness that the good times have ended and it all feels like the show is over. The song is a well crafted number, but why is it here and not at the end of the album? It sorts of feels like a perfect ending track to be honest (but more on that later).
08 - Writer in the Dark
The fragile nature of love and how complicated it can be, the ex-partner is heavy on the mind of Lorde and will always be loved. But the determination of Lorde to move on is at the heart of the song, she acknowledges her past and is focused on moving towards the future. It is a heart breaker, another bleak piece of stunning pop on this album.
09 - Supercut
A dream about a past relationship can seem like a beautiful thing, but it is can sometimes just be a best of, a compilation of all the great parts of that union which also had some shitty times as well. You should recognise that the hard times together with those great moments, this song gives these emotions flesh and structure. It is a beautiful song, one that has subtle hooks that leave a lasting impression.
10 - Liability (Reprise)
The penultimate song of the album revisits the themes of the first part of 'Liability' and it keeps on punching the heart until it starts to bruise each time the song starts. It is much the same as the original to be honest, but that is not a bad thing to be honest.
11 - Perfect Places
Ending the album is this euphoric song about how teenage life is meant to be imperfect, a party and a little bit of a wasteland in places. It is a bright and brash song that acts as an antidote to dark heart of this album, it is akin to coming out of the other end of a bad time and seeing that life is broken, but it can be a hell of a lot of fun. Earlier I said I did not know why 'Sober II (Melodrama)' did not end the album, now I know why. This is a great song, ending the album on a troubled high that is going to see how everything ends up after the next drink.
Lorde has gone from being a pop act to becoming a pop icon in the space of one album, she has destroyed her critics (me included) in the space of eleven songs and made one of the best pop records of 2017. I cannot fault this record for the type of music it is, it is an adventurous record for a pop artist to release at any stage in their career, to unleash this as their second album it is a leap of faith and it has paid off. Another thing I love about this record making a pop album where you best songs are full of swearing is an awesome thing to hear! The promise of her first album has come to fruition and it is a glorious release, but I do not think this is the best she could do. There is still a promise of more to come from Lorde and it can only get better. I really do not mean that in a condescending way, but there are still moments here that could be improved, that will come with time. Also, the more I listen to this album, the more I think that this is the statement that the 1975 were trying to make, but Lorde has the talent to bring it all together. Pop music has needed a new Queen of Pop for a long time - The Queen is dead, long live the Queen!
9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost......
Top track - Homemade Dynamite
You can purchase Melodrama on Amazon here.
You can visit the Lorde website here.
You can follow the activities of Lorde on Facebook here.
You can stream Melodrama on Spotify here.
You can stream Melodrama on Deezer here.
You can stream Melodrama on Tidal here.