Lorde’s Day: A track-by-track review of “Melodrama”
June 16, 2017 truly was the Lorde’s day. Singer-songwriter Ella Yelich-O’Connor, better known as her stage name Lorde, released her first album in four years, entitled “Melodrama.” The sophomore album boasts 11 tracks, with a total runtime of approximately 40 minutes.
In preparation to produce this album, Lorde returned to her native Auckland, New Zealand and strayed from the public eye. It was a true return to her roots, away from the fame, and the album shows it. It showcases the unique timbre of Lorde’s voice, as well as the creative lyrics. Instead of working with Joel Little, who helped create “Royals”, Lorde teamed up with Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers. Antonoff cowrote and coproduced each of the songs on the album.
Lorde mentioned that “Melodrama” was loosely a concept album, capturing the highs and lows of a party. “With a party, there’s that moment where a great song comes on and you’re ecstatic,” Lorde told the Times, likely referring to the more lighthearted songs such as “Green Light” and “Homemade Dynamite”. “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.”
So, here is a run-down of every track on the album and the feeling it invokes. Overall, the album was otherworldly and deep-rooted in the violent, melodramatic emotions that often overtake parties.
Green light: Lorde starts the album off with a bang. “Green Light” was the first single released off the album, and truly draws people in to her conceptual party world. Lorde commented to Beats 1 that this pounding uptempo song is actually about a her first major heartbreak, but is focusing on the moments right after where you realize that everything is about to change. Energy runs electric through the track, creating what should be the bop of 2017. Lorde puts it best, when she tweeted that “Green Light” is “complex and funny and sad and joyous and it’ll make you DANCE.”
Sober: This song has quite an off-putting beginning. It is a jarring switch from the almost triumphant energy of “Green Light”. This song captures the feelings found while slightly tipsy, sitting in a circle on a ratty carpet in someone’s basement. The lights are low, and everything is tinged an ethereal violet color. “Sober” is a delightfully strange-feeling track.
Homemade Dynamite: D-d-d-dynamite song! This is a more low-key party song; it is not as bright and vivid as “Green Light” but still with a feeling that leans more towards dancing. It captures the explosiveness and tickling fun that comes from a euphoric party scene: everything is still all right with the world, and you feel such a strong sense of rightness in your gut that you feel invincible.
The Louvre: This song has a kitschy acoustic guitar in the background that provides a fresh feel, and then an electric guitar joins it for a more upbeat feel. At several points in this song, Lorde speaks instead of sings, and it provides a breath-stealing second each time she does. The fade out at the end of this song truly makes way for what Lorde has labelled the “lonely” parts of a party, which come to be seen in the next song.
Liability: The first true ballad on the album, it starts with slow piano accompaniment, soon joined by Lorde’s smoky voice. The lyrics on this track are truly mesmerizing: capturing loss and loneliness everyone has felt at one point or another. Going back to Lorde’s inspirations for the album, this song evokes the feeling of staring at a makeup-smudged face in someone else’s bathroom mirror.
Hard Feelings/Loveless: A throwback to “Royals”, “Hard Feelings” begins with a low-key beat and some snapping. Lorde’s voice drags itself through the notes, but in a cool way, not a negative one. Right when Lorde was beginning to create “Melodrama”, she had just gotten out of a relationship. Though Lorde has said “Melodrama” is not a “break-up album”, this song is perhaps the biggest nod to her situation that one can find in the track list. “Loveless” is a snippet tacked onto the end of “Hard Feelings” and is just under two minutes long. The short song is catchy, with a much more upbeat feel to it, even though it is once again about a break-up, widening the scope from just herself to all millennials, describing them as a “l-o-v-e-l-e-s-s generation.”
Sober II (Melodrama): Synesthesia is described as “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body”, such as hearing colors or seeing sounds. It is also a neurological phenomenon that Lorde possesses. Synesthesia is truly present in both “Sober” and “Sober II (Melodrama)”; both evoke feelings that are quite magical; the combination of off-putting vocals under a high-pitched chorus, and string instruments in the background with a soothing chord progression. To NPR, Lorde recalls her synesthesia in relation to this song, saying, “It just, all of a sudden the color of the record was so present and vivid and it was just the craziest — just this sort of rain of violets and blues. And it was so intense, and that sort of came to shape the rest of the record.” Where “Sober” shows the feelings experienced during a party’s high time, “Sober II (Melodrama)” is more of a “deflated room”, as Lorde puts it. The party is dying, and this song is the remnants of it, the aftermath of the explosion.
Writer in the Dark: This song feels like it belongs in the darkness of a bedroom, late at night. It captures the regret, the burning thoughts, the ache and the thrill of being with someone. In it, Lorde worries that she will be stuck loving her ex forever, but finds that she can move on. On the feeling it presents, Lorde remarks to NME, “It was weird, I woke up in the middle of the night and was lying next to someone. And I wrote it down on my phone and I was like, ‘Oh God, I feel so naughty writing this!’ While somebody’s sleeping, like an evil witch.” She also commented how it was a “painful” moment on the record, and its slow piano accompaniment and arching vocals, it truly soars at capturing the pain that Lorde was feeling.
Supercut: This song evokes the image of a video montage, hence the title “Supercut.” This song is an upbeat turn from the previous songs, but still with Lorde’s ever-present dark undertones. In the song, Lorde realizes that her relationship isn’t truly what she thought it was, keeping only the best memories in the “supercut” in her mind. This song is probably the most similar to the tone Lorde captured in “Green Light”, one of those windows down in the car yelling-singing songs.
Liability (Reprise): Usually, a reprise is only found in musicals, where the second song calls back the feelings of the first with similar melodies and lyrics, usually slower and more dramatic. Lorde does this in reverse, bringing back the ballad’s earlier tune while refreshing it into a completely new and slightly more energetic song. While the first was a slow piano ballad, this one has synthesizer and a fresh beat while keeping the slow feeling in the melody that Lorde sings.
Perfect Places: University students should enjoy this one: “Perfect Places” is an upbeat song that Lorde developed while spending the summer in New York City. In a Facebook post about the track, Lorde revealed that she “was living in New York during summer last year, writing melodrama – I’d ride across the Brooklyn Bridge every day, or sit on the subway uptown in the heat.” This song originally started as a piano ballad, but became a toe-tapping uptempo bop. It ends Lorde’s concept party on a seemingly triumphant note, but carries a deeper message that a lot of teens miss at parties: these moments may seem euphoric and perfect, but are actually deeply flawed in the actions and thoughts of those involved.
The album is currently selling for $10.99 on iTunes, but is available for free streaming on Spotify.
Photo courtesy of Readdork.com