Reviewed by Anuraag Asiwal, BA, Batch of 2023, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law
Melodrama by Lorde, or what the author of this review affectionately likes to refer to as the True Winner of the Album of the Year for the year 2018, is the closest an artist can come to sonic poetry. New Zealand singer Lorde’s follow up to her critically lauded, Grammy winning and commercially successful album – Pure Heroine – was already one of the most anticipated albums of the year, but what Melodrama has done for music cannot be understated. While the album does not strike one immediately as one of the greatest pieces of music, this author is going to try his hardest to give the album the due praise it deserves.
With the piano playing when Green Light, the first track on the album begins, you already know that you are in for a ride on an emotional rollercoaster that you cannot get off of and neither do you want to. With her haunting voice which touches your very soul, coupled with lyrics so specific to a situation, that they almost seem to manifest a visual representation of it; Lorde does what she does best – she takes you on her journey through pain and rebirth. While Green Light is about the short period after breaking up with someone and giving yourself the permission to move on (the eponymous Green Light), the next song on the album Sober speaks about being disillusioned in a relationship and Homemade Dynamite speaks about the conversation made at parties which is empty and hollow. As for The Louvre (a personal favorite of the author), the song is about how at the height of happiness in relationships, couples firmly believe in the permanence of love and how their love should indeed be admired as a great work of art and should be hung up – you guessed it – in The Louvre for the world to see; for it to be immortalized. After this comes one of the most heartbreaking songs of the 21st Century, Liability. The song hurts like a dagger through the heart, because it is indeed about such a relatable emotion – not feeling like one is good enough. It does end on a much more hopeful note, since the singer ends up relying on herself as that is the only relationship that she feels she has not messed up until now.
Hard Feelings/Loveless grants listeners a little reprieve from the emotionally complex and exhausting journey she has taken us on, by giving us two songs in one. While Hard Feelings is somber and melancholic, by talking about the emotions one feels right after a breakup, Loveless is a commentary on how our ‘L-o-v-e-l-e-s-s generation’ tries to keep ourselves together through heartbreak. Sober II (Melodrama) takes a look at the relationship when the party is over, as it seems to get over just as it began (like most fun parties do). Then comes Writer in the Dark, a song that gives the author goosebumps simply thinking of the lyrics. The song literally begins with the singer finding out that her love is leaving her for someone else. However, she plainly warns him that he will indeed rue the day he kissed a writer in the dark, as she can now, through her art, not just immortalize their love but also the pain he caused her. What makes the song even more devastating is that she confesses to loving him and promises to do so until her breathing stops. The seemingly upbeat Supercut is anything but, as the singer sits down and reminisces through the moments of her relationship, but a much more idealistic version than a realistic one. The reprise of the most devastating track, Liability (Reprise), cuts twice by re-eliciting the pain caused by the first one, where the singer ends up realizing maybe – just maybe – this, this painful experience that we call life (along with the melodrama it brings), is its own kind of party. What might be considered as one of the best final tracks on an album, Perfect Places is the perfect conclusion to this album about being in love and falling out of it, and filling the space left in one by this experience through revelry and flashy distractions. She recognizes the fleeting sense of relief that parties and the company of others may provide to the chronic emptiness she feels, while recognizing that this relief, just like every other party, will end. The song ends with a question with an expletive in it which basically asks – What are perfect places anyway? By not answering this question, she lets us determine what our own version of such a perfect place could be. It ends on a hopeful note, making us realize that while she feels like this at the moment, she will not feel like this forever. She will grow as a person and move past this.
The album, composed with synthesizers and electronic beats coupled with the haunting piano melodies, as painfully relatable as it is, is instrumental in creating the perfect storm of emotion that the album embodies. Lorde delivers once again, in her sophomore album, a track-list that can essentially become the soundtrack of this Loveless Generation, as she so affectionately calls us.