First a disclaimer, #projectjax is still in development. I have been sitting on a host of music I am ready to review but I am waiting for the right time to release that particular thought project. Now on to another album review.
2018 is in full swing, and new music has been pumping through my speakers from a number of talented acts, but I want to go back to 2017 and write up a review on New Zealand’s finest import, Lorde. After a three year hiatus, her album “Melodrama” is a tasty dream pop platinum smash, that is stuffed with both club bangerz and deep cuts that feature meaningful singer songwriter hits. Readers might be familiar with Lorde’s debut “Pure Heroine” or its ear worm, double platinum viral breakout single “Royals”, and might be surprised to see such a mature effort from this incredibly young flash in the pan artist, However 2017 became Lorde’s year after she dropped “Melodrama”.
Faced with lofty expectations the record was surrounded by hype before its release, and yet, thanks to the help of some veteran music producers/partners most notably Jack Antonoff (the front man for the pop rock band Bleachers), Lorde exceeded every expectation placed on her little head and delivers a sonic experience that showcase not only the extents and power of her incredible voice, but her way with language and her ability to stretch out and milk different syllables, packing every lyric with both meaning and a refreshing musicality.
Still only 19 when this album dropped, the world weariness and experience in her voice cannot be understated. Lorde transcends her age and sings about experiences and life lessons with class and ease. She somehow manages to create dance club ready experiences without sacrificing any of her innate dignity and elegance. Look to first single “Green Light” for a sneak peak into the brain of the songstress, the song is a mash up of two separate but non competing musical blocks that effortlessly merge together with a fun breakdown to create a note worthy pop song that stood out in 2017’s crowded music soundscape. By the time Lorde has lost herself in the slowly building piano and growing reserves of manic energy her controlled yet frantic vocal performance soars into the stratosphere and takes the listener on an undeniable and fun ride that is almost over all too soon.
Lorde’s vocal delivery is unique in that every lyric is pronounced and sung with emotion but her understanding of the English language is also mastered and rehearsed. Listen to “Liability” for an engaging story on her experience with breakout fame and hype. She tenderly connects her song to the quiet piano and croons but does not hold back. She feels so openly it is hard to argue with her argument. She persuades and pushes her point across so passionately that she leaves an impact most pop singers could only hope to emulate.
In “Perfect Places” her second single, Lorde describes with flowery imagery and prose so tight that no listener will be unable to see in their mind’s eye just where she is coming from or what her overall point is. Certain lyrics in “Perfect Places” are beautifully crafted and delivered so persuasively it almost becomes impossible not to move along to the music. The sign of a good pop record, “Melodrama” is full of pathos and glamour, the production behind every track is pitch perfect and never too overbearing. The hard work and dedication to her song craft is effervescent and perfect throughout.
I loved this record and “Melodrama” was an absolute highlight of 2017. Lorde should be commended for making this record when and how she did. I cannot pick just a few favorite songs to highlight. All I can do is recommend listening to the whole album start to finish hopefully on headphones. Pop music is historically fairly shallow, yet songs like “Writer in the Dark” and “Sober” are refreshingly deep and full of context and metaphors that could be dissected in a laboratory or lecture hall. The sheer naked talent she exposes on this record are borderline obscene at times, yet at the very same time they are tasteful and artistic. This album touched me in places few pop albums have managed too and I highly recommend listening to this pop masterpiece.