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The Eternal Appeal of Lorde’s Melodrama

The Eternal Appeal of Lorde’s Melodrama

Lorde - Melodrama album art painted by Sam McKinnis
YouTube | Green Light – Lorde

I was 18 when I first heard Lorde’s Melodrama. It was March; the end of 11th Grade and we were out practicing our recognition ceremony. In the typical teenage fashion, I believe I was experiencing some sort of personal tragedy there. Enough to make Liability relatable. Melodrama was the first album in which I feel like I was being spoken to. As the days get progressively hotter, the vacation presenting the prospect of college in a year or so, the languor that comes along with being holed up in the house, and being at the precipice of the teenage phase — there could not be a more perfect time to listen to the album.

Lorde is known for her chart-topping single Royals back in 2013. She was 16, with an early distaste for opulence and its presentation in pop culture.

A critique directed to her contemporary Lana Del Rey singing about Bugatti Veyrons, traveling to the Hamptons, citing the breakthrough debut album of the latter. “If I write songs about anything else then I’m not writing anything that’s real,” she explains.

Lorde in her music video for Green Light, the lead single of her sophomore album, Melodrama.

If Pure Heroine her debut album declares the anxieties of growing up, Melodrama explores what it’s like being on the precipice of teenagehood. The arrival at the doorstep of 20s. On the cover Lorde is depicted in a glum painting, laying on the bed. She looks sullen. As if being disturbed from a fitful sleep. Maybe nursing a hangover. Light spills from a nearby window adding a pop of bright color to an otherwise bleak room.

The album maneuvers this aesthetic. A sonic and textual exploration of a night party. An ecstatic party and its consequences.

In Melodrama, Lorde captured the singularity of the casualization of love (But what will we do when we’re sober?) heartbreak (Baby, really hurt me crying in the taxi), and its nuances. A clarity that could only come from prolonged dwelling. Melodrama was released in 2017, a four-year interval between Pure Heroine. Last year she released her much-anticipated third album which she named Solar Power at the same interval.

The first time working with Jack Antonoff, who was then gaining popularity in the pop scene after producing Taylor Swift’s 1989, the collaboration seemed to be fruitful. The album is a mélange of synesthesiastic neon-inflected electropop.

Lorde | Album art of Melodrama painted by Sam McKinniss

In my head, I play a supercut of us

The album is without a doubt tells about the ache of a love that ended so much as it is an album about “solitude.”  The Supercut of the entirety of the relationship is told in different tones and perspectives.

The adamant tone in I’m waiting for it / That green light / I want it she sings in the first track. The tender I am my mother’s child / I loved you till my breathing stops / I love you till you call the cops on me in Writer in the Dark. The illuminating knowledge of heartbreak that comes along with the naivete of teenage. I’m 19 and I’m on fire / But when we’re dancing I’m alright / It’s just another graceless night she sings in Perfect Places.

The highs that come along with edging to your 20s, the party Every night I live and die / Feel the party to my bones, the liquor Oh how fast the evening passes / Cleaning up the champagne glasses, the endless dancing, and the lulls; the existential dread of shedding childhood innocence, the estrangement one encounters when growing up, and the inevitable slowing of rush “like pseudoephedrine.”

First heartbreak is almost always a formative experience. One can argue that our life is divided between this significant moment.

Before and after we knew what love is. The first is the apotheosis of clarity, the consciousness of what we lack and thereby what we desire. And when this illusion is shattered, only time will tell us things. This is the perfect album to navigate that first heartbreak. An experience that is universal and personal at once.

Lorde in her music video for Green Light, the lead single of her sophomore album, Melodrama.
YouTube | Green Light – Lorde

Melodrama ebbs and flows to the themes of party, drunkness, sober, and memories. The brashness of Sober It’s all gone, played it so nonchalant / It’s time we danced with the truth, the pensive reminiscing of The Louvre, A rush at the beginning / I get caught up, just for a minute. The sobering question after a hangover, Lights are on and they’ve gone home / But who am I? And the luminosity of memories displayed in Supercut All the moments I play in the dark / Wild and fluorescent.

But what really takes away the whole album is the final moments of Hard Feelings.

These are what they call hard feelings of love

Three years loved you every single day made me weak / It was real for me / Yup, real for me / Now I’ll fake it every single day till I don’t need fantasy / Till I feel you leave

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Lorde has a propensity for trivial things like punctuation use, the conversational tone like being hung at the back of the Louvre because who cares, still the Louvre and Yup, real for me.

But then comes the inevitable.

But I still remember everything how we’d drift buying groceries / How you dance for me / I’ll start letting go of everything till I’m so far away from you / Far away from you.

You can picture Lorde’s subject in Jungle City at midnight, moving away from him, her words softly echoing like a whisper to herself.

A reminder of what had transpired. Gratefulness that could only come from truly loving someone despite what happened. Here, you can hear the strings become prominent in the background as if the sounds are witnesses ­— a rare moment, crafted by both Antonoff and Lorde ­— which crystallizes the painful acceptance of remembering, a requirement before moving on. Lorde and the sound sing to each other in an orchestral duet.

Lorde in her music video for Green Light, the lead single of her sophomore album, Melodrama.
YouTube | Green Light – Lorde

Love sometimes isn’t remembered in those giant moments of declarations but in the accretion of memories. The accumulation of moments that eventually form a habit. A sense of security is assumed to last. The timelessness that for sure it will continue to sustain owes itself to Lorde’s acuity with her talent. Melodrama doesn’t pull any tricks, is not self-conscious with its aesthetic, not trying to prove anything. There’s something about art produced this way. Where the least thing in mind is awards, acclaim, or sales. It’s freeing, and puts less pressure on artists and thereby the art itself. Melodrama will continue to sustain a generation of teenagers’ bildungsroman for years to come.

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