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Music Review: Melodrama

Steph Kang, Co-editor in Chief

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I’ll admit it: the first time I listened to “Melodrama” all the way through, I thought to myself, Not as good as “Heroine.”

Because “Heroine” is a tough act to follow. It brought her into the limelight, won her a Grammy, and stole my heart away the first time I listened to it.

But that was then. The same impossible-to-replicate, relatable themes and unique production have all but vanished now that Lorde has transcended above to the world of superstardom.

Despite the lack of the relatability that first made me an avid Lorde fan all those years ago, “Melodrama” is still, well, an album made by Lorde. After the initial shock of the changes in style, I went back and listened to the lyrics harder and tried to break down its musical composition and … there is no denying her brilliance.. It’s just the message she puts out seems, well, distant.

One of the most noticeable things about “Melodrama” is how Lorde avoids addressing how her situation has so drastically shifted from the conditions she wrote her previous album in.

The songs primarily talk about falling in love and dealing with breakups, and while Lorde alludes to her cognizance of the changes in a few songs, they’re never confronted head on. While it’s understandable that love can be and is a huge part of people’s lives, where are other components of her life? Where is the breadth of her previous album, the way she purposely addressed topics never usually addressed in songs and critiqued the extravagance of pop culture? In that way, “Melodrama” is a let down, sacrificing her advancements in song topics alone for the all-too-worn-out tropes of love and loss. Yes, she does try to advance these tropes by portraying heartbroken girls as full of hope and whatnot in songs such as “Liability,” but I’m just so freaking tired of hearing about love. Isn’t everybody else?

Piano ballads, 80’s inspired sounds, and that trademarked classic indie sound mark Lorde’s new sound for an effect that doesn’t sound all that particularly new. Listening to the album all the way through, it was difficult to focus on songs and differentiate between them, and oftentimes I would abruptly realize I had listened to two more songs than I thought I had.

In total, “Melodrama” was frustrating. If the album hadn’t been attached to Lorde’s name, I would have listened to it, thought the songs were okay, then forgotten about it.

Haruki Murakami wrote in Kafka on the Shore, “People soon get tired of things that aren’t boring, but not of what is boring.” Even though the mediocrity of everyday life is boring, it’s still something important to talk about, and it’s still something that still needs discussion. Love is so beautiful and wonderful and exciting, true, but it’s been trampled over and over again, and it’s exhausting having its wonders rehashed again, even more so by such a brilliant musician whose talents could honestly be used for better things. This feeling ultimately made listening to “Melodrama” such a bittersweet experience. I love new albums by Lorde. I don’t love cheap cop-outs.

1 Comment

One Response to “Music Review: Melodrama”

  1. Hannah on September 29th, 2017 10:09 am

    I’d have to disagree Steph! What was frustrating about Pure Heroine was that it was so VAGUE. She may have tackled more difficult subjects but Melodrama is a decidedly more cohesive album. My biggest critique is that her tracklist is so FRUSTRATING. The songs definitely tell a story but the way she set it up, everything is all jumbled. Overall, Melodrama is definitely more satisfying than Pure Heroine. (But I loved reading your review!!!!)

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