As kid-wonder, Lorde shook the nation with her brilliant song “Royals”. The song, sporting influences from the current hip-hop landscape, stormed the airwaves and became an anthem of suburban kids looking for something to worry about. However, after the release of the gloomy, dissonant yet focused album Pure Heroine, she fell off the face of the Earth. Sure, there was the track she did with Disclosure, a music video with Taylor Swift and a couple other unnoted features, but other than that, she was silent. Until now.
The single “Green Light” is an explosive pop song with decent lyrics detailing a break-up, but the lyrics are and never will be Lorde’s focus point. The songwriting and instrumentation is sharp and easy to distinguish, with a skeletal piano soon flowering into bright chords with a light drum loop bouncing in the back. Her singing still sounds girly, but reflects more maturity than before, bringing her amassed experience as an adult. In fact, she sounds this way throughout the entire record, which coincides well with the description of the album, which is about her first year of adulthood. The hook on the single rockets out with the lyrics “I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it!.” As an intro to the record, I think it sets the tone well, but I think she could’ve experienced more as I feel like it pales in comparison to other tracks on the album that sound way more left field.
On songs like “Supercut” and “Homemade Dynamite” are examples of songs that have killer hooks and catchy melodies, while not sacrificing the sound of the project as a whole. While “Green Light” still is a good song, it could’ve used more production wise. Speaking of production, the album has a very cohesive vibe, with a sound that reminds me of Times Square at night. Big, bright lights that completely obscure the dark sky. It has elements of synth-pop and textures of new wave but still feels modern. The mixing is absolutely immaculate, with each instrument and noise having room to move around freely, giving an airy and fluorescent sound, like a night out. Records like “Sober” and “The Louvre” venture even farther out of those boundaries by incorporating horns and dance rhythms.
The album is tightly packed with stuff to love and a vast spectrum of sounds to grasp onto and various themes of break-up which although cheesy at times, are ten miles ahead of any pop lyricism on the radio. Plus, the instrumentation only elevates the emotion Lorde conveys. In my opinion, the album’s strongest tracks are when Lorde flexes her experimental muscles the most while showing her brilliance in crafting the perfect chorus. This is shown in songs, and even interludes, like “Perfect Places”, “Sober II (Melodrama), and “Liability”, with the ladder showing the most emotion out of the tracklist. Out of all of the tracks however, my favorite has to be “Hard Feelings/Loveless” with it’s sweeping drums and melodies that carry it as an amazing centerpiece.
In conclusion, Lorde has returned with an undisputed force in modern pop that I think will considered one of the best of the year.