Album Review: Lorde’s Melodrama

by Ayanna Jacobs-El

20-year old singer-songwriter Lorde (real name: Ella Yelich-O’Connor) released her much-anticipated second album Melodrama last month. Melodrama is 4 years in the making since her debut album Pure Heroine in 2013. In today’s rapid-fire music industry a 4-year gap is an immensely long time for an artist to take on an album, but in Lorde’s case, I think it was the right move. During this time span, the New Zealand native was able to craft a well thought out and meaningful album that is filled with pop music that is actually relatable. The album is also filled with more honesty and depth than many other chart-topping tracks that are out now. The concept for her newest album revolves around a house party and the drama that unfolds there. What follows are songs that reflect on being a young woman that has dealt with heartbreak, grief, and her maturation into being comfortable with herself.

By far the most popular song off of Melodrama is “Green Light.” The up-tempo dance track sits perfectly under Lorde’s husky, rich vocals and her lyrical ability to paint pictures is showcased throughout the song. Lorde uses lyrics like, “How we kissed when we danced on the light up floor” to craft clear visual settings.  “Green Light” is about her first heartbreak at the hands of an unfaithful lover. The track is clearly in the anthemic pop style but it draws from other genres like disco and plays with form and instrumentation throughout its nearly 4-minute run.

Another standout track from the album is the earworm “Homemade Dynamite.” Lorde wrote this song along with Swedish singer-songwriter Trove Lo. The song is all about meeting someone that you feel comfortable around at a party and having an explosive time all night. I found the lyrical effect of stuttering the word “dynamite” clever in the chorus because it is used to mimic the sound of a ticking bomb which is a similar explosive device.

Towards the middle of the album, Lorde switches it up with the sensitive piano-driven ballad “Liability.” The subject material is very personal about how she comes to become comfortable with loving and being by herself. She comes to this realization because she realizes that she will always be seen as a burden to someone else. She also realizes that after the initial intrigue of being with her fades away in a relationship, her significant other will become bored and begin to view her as a “liability.” I think that this level of introspection and awareness isn’t very common in many young songwriter’s songs.

I like that a pop star like Lorde isn’t trying to create an idealized version of herself for her listeners. Instead, her music is built on showcasing an unsanitized version of her true thoughts, vulnerabilities, and feelings. This is very refreshing in a time when most artists, and pretty much anyone else, is trying to make their lives seem perfect and fulfilling in every way.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG OFF OF MELODRAMA? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

About the Author

Ayanna Jacobs-El
Ayanna Jacobs-El is a composer, producer, songwriter, singer, alto and baritone saxophonist, and DJ dual majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production and Professional Music with a minor in Writing for TV and New Media. You can learn more about Ayanna and hear her music by visiting www.ayannajacobsel.com.