With the exception of a track on the Hunger Games soundtrack, the last time we heard from Lorde was in 2013, when she released her debut album Pure Heroine, a menacing, detached vision of 21st Century youth spearheaded by her alternative-pop anthem ‘Royals’. ‘Royals’ itself went on to win two Grammys for Lorde, who was just 16 at the time of release. Now 20, Lorde has returned with the confirmation of her second album Melodrama, slated for a June release and the LP’s first single ‘Green Light’. The track is unfortunately not a homage to The Great Gatsby but a dissection of Lorde’s first major heartbreak, set to glistening, piano-driven disco.
Lorde promised something ‘very different’ to the morose, mid-tempo dream-pop of her first album, and with ‘Green Light’ she delivers. She injects herself into a new vein of vindictiveness, working one octave lower than her previous work, a subtle measure of her graduation into young womanhood. But even amidst the destruction and chaos of a turbulent breakup, Lorde retains her elegance at she raises the tempo towards muscular, extroverted pop. The intro doesn’t venture far from the blueprints of Pure Heroine, as Lorde rasps over sparse arrangements but as an urgent chorus of backing singers led by Lorde enters the fray during the bridge, the track begins to race towards its liberating chorus.
The conflict between the troubled relationship and the eventual euphoria of the chorus’ release furthers the intensity of ‘Green Light’, before its giddying chorus gives voice to Lorde’s revolution. The burning question in the run-up to ‘Green Light’s’ release was whether Lorde could transition successfully from adolescence to young adulthood and in tackling that subject in the lyricism and the composition, she answers that question defiantly. Throughout there’s the threat of something larger looming, and that final ecstatic minute, charged by Lorde’s empowering war cry and the reverb of synthesisers and guitar, underlines her ambition for further, solidified, headliner status . You get a little lost in the fluorescent turbulence of Lorde’s story, but by the end, the vision of a new start is clear and exciting.
Image courtesy of Billboard