Review #460: Melodrama, Lorde

Karla Clifton
3 min readNov 10, 2023

#460: Melodrama, Lorde

Lorde sticks out like a sore thumb in today’s musical landscape. She dances like a weirdo. She shushes her own crowd!!!

Everyone and their mother has heard “Royals,” which was undoubtedly one of the most exciting songs written by a seventeen-year-old ever. Did you know that she was signed to Universal Music at age 13? And remember when she sang “All Apologies” with Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic? You might also know her from those episodes of South Park.

Melodrama was Lorde’s follow-up to Pure Heroine. She waited four years to release it and asked Jack Antonoff to produce. The result is what Lorde has called a “loose” concept album about a house party. And Lorde’s house party sounds exactly what partying in your youth feels like: a desperate, horrible, great time. Lead single “Green Light” is in the aftermath of a breakup, but when the chorus gets going and a multi-tracked Lorde yells I’m waiting for it! That green light! I want it! it’s hard not to feel ecstasy. Other songs like “Homemade Dynamite,” about finding a simpatico soul on a night out, and “Perfect Places,” about partying in the face of the fear of being alone, are tinged with something sad, despite being club bangers.

Lorde actually had her first adult breakup before she started recording this, and so love and the messiness of trying to find love as a young person. Acoustic “The Louvre” is maybe the only optimistic one, imbued with new relationship energy. But most of the rest have the end of relationships in mind. “Supercut” sounds sunny, but it’s a retrospective on a long-over relationship. “Writer In The Dark,” where Lorde tries on her best Kate Bush impression, imagines the POV of a man who realizes that dating an artist means that he will inevitably be written about. (Relatable.) It’s personal, but she also relates it to the general experience of dating post-2000, and how unserious it can be. “Hard Feelings/Loveless” calls her generation the f*ckin’ with our lover’s heads generation. Maybe “Sober II (Melodrama)” says it best: They’ll talk about us, all the lovers/ How we kiss and kill each other. And hasn’t that always been true?

Of course, it isn’t a house party if there isn’t a drunk girl crying in the corner. “Sober” somehow manages to be a huge bummer and also a great party song, like the weird moment of clarity that you sometimes get at a party. What will we do when we’re sober? But “Liability” is the one that cuts deepest. It’s just Lorde and a piano, no effervescent electropop production from Mr. Antonoff, as she worries that she’s too much for everyone, and yet still calls the relationship between her and herself as the only love she hasn’t screwed up. (Still, I don’t think we need “Liability (Reprise)” because who really needs a reprise?)

Unfortunately, Lorde’s latest album, Solar Power, was received well, not critically or commercially. She admitted that the reception was “confounding and at times painful to sit with.” And, um, wow, that album cover. Kind of badass?

But Lorde also added, “I learnt a ton about myself and how I’m perceived by making and releasing this album” and called it “one of those works that gets made between peaks.” What a mature response to feedback. I think Lorde is going to continue surprising us.

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