Lorde – ‘Melodrama’ | Retro Record Review

Taking a look back at Lorde’s masterpiece of a second album


In June of 2017, Ella Yelich-O’Connor, better known as Lorde, released her most innovative and courageous record. Melodrama. The album explores ideas of coming-of-age, partying, painful breakups, feelings of emptiness, as well as feelings of euphoria. The title of the album itself, Melodrama, perfectly encapsulates everything about the record itself. Everything is heightened and everything is felt so passionately throughout the music. 

Lorde’s lyrical abilities are so masterful on this album that they are able to completely transport us to different times in our lives where we felt the emotions that she’s singing about. Melodrama has got to be counted as one of my favourite albums. It has quite a mystical power over me because of the time in my life when I first heard it. It opens you up to feeling deeply and encourages self-growth with every listen. Although her previous album, Pure Heroine, was a tough competitor, Lorde definitely showcased her growth as an artist through Melodrama. 

The album was brought together with Lorde working alongside producer Jack Antonoff, who has collaborated with many famed musicians on their albums; Taylor Swift, St. Vincent, and Kevin Abstract. Previously to Melodrama, Lorde wrote all of her earlier music with co-writer and fellow New Zealander, Joel Little. However, on this record, her lyrics were developed by only herself and Antonoff. The lyrical quality on this record is one of the most compelling reasons to explore it. There is a sense of the album being like a personal diary held by Lorde, telling tales of one night stands and regret. 

Although the album has 11 unique and emotional tracks, track number 5, ‘Liability’, holds the most heart-wrenching content. From the melody to the arrangements and of course, the lyrical content. Once again, what makes Melodrama so addictive as an album is a raw emotion being conveyed and expressed through the lyrics. For example, in Liability, she writes “The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy ‘till all of the tricks don’t work anymore and then they are bored of me.” and it’s that sort of vulnerability that is so hard to come across in modern music. However, Lorde’s musical skills equally appear on the happier tracks such as ‘Perfect Places’ and ‘Homemade Dynamite’. 

Despite being a heavily piano-based record, the songs which explore new sounds and genres, such as disco and electronic music, perfectly blend into the rest of the record without a feeling of them not belonging there. Writing and releasing her first album at a ripe age of 16, she was thrown into the spotlight and left with countless choices for exploring her sound. Hailing inspiration from Kate Bush, Frank Ocean and David Bowie, her sound is one-of-a-kind and despite the labelling of her as a Pop musician, Lorde has the talent and power to be successful in any genre imaginable. 

To describe the instrumentation on the album in one word, it would definitely be “breath-taking.” The light, airy piano which is heard on so many of the tracks, perfectly contrasts to the intense and pounding drum machine and interesting electronic instruments used in others. That’s one of the best things about Antonoff’s production; he knows what to do when it comes to instrumentation and making a song be one-in-a-million. 

One of the most striking things about Lorde is her distinctive singing voice. It holds such a captivating rasp and punches that it often leads us to feel it being oxymoronic to hear her lyrics that tell tales of vulnerability and self-consciousness. It could be compared to that of Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey, and is reminiscent of a young Debbie Harry. The most commercially successful track off of Melodrama was the first single she released in March 2017, Green Light. After a 3 year hiatus from her previous record, she showed very distinct and clear growth and maturity in her sound and lyrics. 

To say that Lorde’s Melodrama has withstood the test of time would be an understatement. It has recently gained more traction with loyal fans and with new listeners as it is a perfect representative of the persona and music of Lorde. Although we have eagerly waited for any news, Lorde hasn’t released any new content but has been rumoured to be recording with Jack Antonoff again. Here’s to hoping she’ll save this year for us and leave her mark on music, once again. 

Words by Mirjana Lozancic

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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