Lorde Melodrama Review
By: Mal Culbertson
Melodrama, the sophomore album of pop artist Lorde, has earned the coveted #1 spot on Billboard’s Top 200 charts. The 11 track album had already garnered strong reviews from Pitchfork, Metacritic and Rolling Stone, but a #1 debut on the charts is certainly an achievement for the 20-year-old artist. Melodrama comes four years after Lorde’s debut album Pure Heroine, which topped at #3 on the charts, and involved a much larger creative team than the previous album.
One major difference in production between the albums is the addition of Jack Antonoff as co-writer and producer. Antonoff, who’s home studio was used to record the album, has worked closely with artists like Taylor Swift, Sara Barellis and Sia, and has brought his influence to the album. Where Pure Heroine was an entirely unique sound from a newcomer artist, Melodrama seems to echo of other big tracks of the recent past. Antonoff carries similar sounds between tracks like “Crowded Places” by Banks and “Hard Feelings/Loveless” on Melodrama. The same track, “Hard Feelings/Loveless”, echoes Grimes, another artist Antonoff has worked with on multiple albums, as well as ODESZA’s “Kusanagi”.
The album opens with “Green Light”, which was the first single released prior to the album’s release. It’s a fun and liberating track, setting the tone of the album as Lorde’s transition out of her teenage years and into her new life as a young adult.“Sober” and “Homemade Dynamite” follow next, keeping up the pace of the beginning of the album. “Sober”, full of brass instruments and layered vocals, is energetic and interesting to listen to. “Homemade Dynamite” sounds like it would fit neatly in Pure Heroine and shows off Lorde’s vocal range.
“The Lourve”, “Liability”, “Hard Feelings/Loveless”, “Sober II (Melodrama)”, “Writer In The Dark” fill out the middle of the album and bring softer vibes. “The Lourve” feels the same way an eighties movie feels. “Liability” was the second track of the album released as a single and shows a much more vulnerable side to the artist than any of the tracks. While “Hard Feelings/Loveless” might be reminiscent of other artists, “Hard Feelings” brings a swell of positive energy to the middle of the album after the more emotional “Liability”. The “Loveless” portion of the track can make one wish the two tracks were separated, ending the combined track on an ironically saccharine and somewhat bitter note. “Sober II (Melodrama)”, the namesake track of the album, lives up to the title with orchestral violins and the signature staccato vocals of Lorde over an admittedly overplayed beat. “Writer In The Dark” offers harmonies unheard of in any other Lorde track.
“Supercut”, “Liability (Reprise)”, and “Perfect Places” round out the album. “Supercut” lifts the mood of the tail end of the album and reminds of Taylor Swift’s “Out Of The Woods”. “Liability (Reprise)” continues on from “Supercut” and plays as the painful counterpart to “Supercut”’s dreamy reminiscing of love lost. “Perfect Places”, the final track released as a single, ends the album with on a liberating note. While the “we’re young and free” themes of the track may be overplayed, they represent an optimistic look forward and to new opportunities.
Melodrama is an evolution of Lorde as an artist that reflects her move from a teenager beyond her years to a young adult with a whole new life. If this album is anything like the last, an extended edition can be expected to drop sometime soon.