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OPINION: Lorde finds pop perfection in sophomore album

courtesy of iTunes

courtesy of iTunes

Trevor Tyle, Staff Intern

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It’s hard to believe it has been four years since Lorde ruled the Billboard Hot 100 with her smash hit “Royals.” At the time, she was only 16-years-old. The New Zealand native conquered the music world, earning herself two Grammy Awards, another top ten single and a debut album that was certified platinum three times—all while most of us were still failing high school algebra.

Now, Lorde—whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor—is 20-years-old and is in a completely different place. The songstress initially achieved success for her hauntingly powerful and mature lyricism, and her fearless defiance of social norms, something she has managed to replicate in a completely different light on her sophomore effort, her second album “Melodrama.”

The alternative and electronic sounds that dominated her debut album “Pure Heroine” have taken a backseat on “Melodrama,” which dives headfirst into pop perfection. The album opener, lead single “Green Light,” is an anthemic ode to breakups and fresh starts. It’s the perfect bridge between her two albums while signifying her evolution into a fully fledged pop superstar.

Lorde’s friendship with Taylor Swift is evident on this album, which Lorde co-wrote and produced alongside Swift’s “1989” hitmaker Jack Antonoff. However, Lorde’s lyrics reach a depth that not even a masterful writer such as Swift has yet reached.

The album’s second track, “Sober,” further delves into Lorde’s newfound pop-centered terrain, infusing an infectiously simple beat with a flare of Beyoncé-esque horns in the chorus. The hauntingly catchy “Homemade Dynamite” screams hit potential, while the nostalgic guitar riff of “The Louvre” quickly explodes into a midtempo pop anthem that mysteriously fades off into the distance.

“Melodrama” is a far more personal album, according to Lorde, and it shows. The record explores themes of solitude and hopeless romanticism behind a narrative of a metaphorical house party. Though blunt in describing the strenuous transition from adolescence into adulthood, she makes it sound divine.

She remains painstakingly vulnerable throughout the whole record. Lorde’s refreshingly brutal honesty reaches its peak towards the middle of the album with “Liability,” in which she displays vulnerability at its finest. Though her sorrowful lyrics are often masked by the album’s euphoric production, Lorde opens up like never before on this powerful piano/vocal ballad.

The breathtaking emotion of “Liability” is echoed on the lyrical masterpiece of “Writer in the Dark,” one of the album’s strongest offerings. The melancholy track is appropriately followed by the fast-paced “Supercut,” a wistful ode to a relationship where Lorde regretfully finds herself saying, “In my head, I’d do everything right.”

On album closer “Perfect Places,” a track slightly reminiscent of her 2013 hit “Team,” Lorde encapsulates the theme of the album perfectly, highlighting the darker reality behind what society portrays as the carefree nature of youth. Its shouty chorus yearns for more than just the escape described in the song—it is begging to be her next big hit.

Though Lorde entered the music scene drawing comparisons to the likes of Lana Del Rey and Grimes, she has entered into a league of her own, and one that remains untouchable by most of her peers. In the midst of the superficial world of modern pop music, Lorde is one of a select few artists capable of creating a cohesive body of work that can truly be called “art.”

“Melodrama” is like a colorful and exquisite Tumblr blog—unconventionally poetic, engaging, and full of life.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Oakland University's independent student newspaper.