Review: Lorde, Pure Heroine
Standout Tracks: 400 Lux, Ribs, Buzzcut Season
Lorde‘s (Ella Yelich-O’Connor) first single, Royals, rattles on about not being one of the elite, the posh, the wealthy and successful (in the pop world). While most attitudes about the lyrics have been receptive, it is still controversial in that some bloggers out there have deemed the lyrics racists (ie; this post on feministing.com), and have spurred debate about a young feminist artist as well as the proliferation of Black culture. My take? I saw a 13 year old girl singing it on the street the other day and genuinely appreciated the widespread love of the song. I’d rather hear that than ‘work bitch!’.
With a number one single and several record breaking statistics (youngest artist in 26 years to top the US billboard as well as longest alternative charting female since 1996), Lorde’s success is almost ironic. Success hate aside, it’s still better for teenage girls to idolize someone like Lorde over Britney Spears (aka our generations idol), and her lyrics about Bugattis and Maseratis. Is lorde genuine? Time can only tell, and with her recent rise to fame I speculate it won’t be long before we see not only if she’s genuine, but if she can cope with the monstrous carnivore that is the popular music industry. Aside from that, let’s discuss the album.
This isn’t the kind of pop album you blast at a party; instead it’s the one you blast in your room or on a drive with your girlfriends. It’s so teen and so not at the same time. Lorde’s ability to write songs that transcend age and geography is most impressive. Beyond that the production is amazing and the songs themselves a step above most pop songs today.
400 Lux is like dayum- sexy pop, classy, simple, young, vibrant; come on? What is it we love about Pop anyway? For me this one of the strongest tracks on the album. The lyrics speak to emotions and moments even 20-somethings feel and think (let’s face it, she speaks more eloquently than our own minds do). Yes, the main part of the lyrics is literally a repetition of “I like you”, which seems so juvenile, but the candidness is refreshing. I’ve personally felt exactly what she describes- “We might be hollow but we’re brave”, she sings, and it’s an apt description of so many facets of what it means to be alive.
400 Lux is buttressed on either side by Lorde’s break out singles, Royals and Tennis Court, which are honestly the weakest tracks on the record (or maybe Royals is just overplayed). When the record makes it past those two singles it truly shines. Ribs is stunning. The production is light, dreamy, and the chorus fantastically catchy. All the while Lorde sings words that seem like the feelings of a self aware dream girl. She hasn’t lost the wide eyed complete embrace of emotion which slowly deteriorates with age and jadedness- she feels her lows so violently, and her highs so invigoratingly. It’s this contradiction, her youth and her wisdom (which is strongly tied to her naivete) exposing themselves in her lyrics that makes her so captivating (of course her intrusive stares and dark lips don’t hurt).
It’s entertaining that Lorde presents herself as the anti-pop star, and even critiques Taylor Swift- but then the lyrics of Swift’s 22, “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time”, seem to capture Pure Heroine’s entire saga of vulnerable emotions, often masked in Lorde’s ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude. More so than being the anti-pop star, Lorde is the pop star of the post-internet, post-luxury world- in actuality the keys to the success which will likely allow her those very indulgences.