MELODRAMA BY LORDE // 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY ALBUM REVIEW

Last month was the five year anniversary of Lorde's sophomore release of Melodrama, which has since become one of the most influential albums in my life over that time. Although I have written about this album many times before, I never wrote a full review of it, so this felt like the perfect time to finally do so. 

After taking a four year hiatus following her massively successful debut album, Pure Heroine, Lorde came back and better than ever in 2017 with Melodrama. This is a release that since became one of the best albums of the 2010s and also truly solidified her as a once-in-a-generation type of artist - what she did with Melodrama is just so amazing and can never be replicated. In the album's acknowledgements , she wrote "It’s been two years of breathlessness and hunger – a new sound, a new scene; a drink, a drumbeat."

In a 2017 interview with The New York Times, she spoke of how she took inspiration from a night at a house party, "With a party, there’s that moment where a great song comes on and you’re ecstatic, and then there’s that moment later on where you’re alone in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, you don’t think you look good, and you start feeling horrible." While the house party concept may not be something you catch on to in the first listen, that range of emotions she spoke of is so evident in the tracklist, as these 11 songs include a spectrum of the highest of highs and lowest of lows - and everything in between. It is introspective, intensely emotional and of course melodramatic. 

She often sings of heartbreak and the end of a relationship on this record, but she has said many times that Melodrama isn't a breakup album; "...it’s a record about being alone. The good parts and the bad parts," she told The New York Times. 

Melodrama is an album that has been so influential in my life over the past five years, it was released right after I graduated high school and at that time it was an album I felt was made for me in so many ways. That is a feeling I don't think I ever had before until that point and only happened to me maybe one other time since. It really did come at the perfect time in my life. That was also around the time I fully discovered the magic of Pure Heroine (aside from the extremely popular singles), so both of those albums really served as a soundtrack to that time of my life, and it still does to this day. As a young woman and as an artist, I have found so much comfort and inspiration in these songs and in the narrative she creates in her musical universe. I am only a few years younger than Lorde, so for myself and many others of my generation, there is such a strong connection I feel to her words and the way she conveys very specific experiences that we all inevitably go through.

Following the release of Melodrama, I have heard the influences of this album sprinkled throughout so many other musicians' work. Her distinct style of songwriting, one that is so pure and honest as if she is writing a diary entry of her deepest thoughts, is something that makes Lorde as an artist so special and makes this album as a whole so special too. She conveys the young female experience in a way unlike any other female songwriter I have ever heard before. The perspective she shares in these lyrics is one that I think many will be able to find a piece of themselves in.

The message of the opening track "Green Light" is especially one I think most will be able to relate to, at least at some point in their life. She sings about being on the precipice of a big change, but is waiting for the signal to be able to finally jump in and let go of the past. She sings "I wish I could come get my things and just let go". This was also the lead single of the album, which was the best choice because it really does sum up all of the themes of Melodrama into one song. 

The repetition and fade-out of "I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it", at the end of the song feels so powerful and captures these emotions so perfectly. I also have to mention that when I saw her live in 2018, the encore of "Green Light" felt so transcending and honestly life-changing, like in a way I left a different person than I went in as - which is a feeling I've only ever had a couple of times in my life. If you've ever heard this song live, maybe you can relate to that electric feeling too. Getting to hear this album in it's entirety at the show felt so special for that same reason. 

Melodrama is also the first album that she worked on with Jack Antonoff, who was the primary producer and co-writer for this album as well as her following releases thus far. This was actually the first time he ever produced a full album for another artist, as well. Considering how it has only been five years, it is truly so remarkable how far he has come during that time as an artist himself. If you are a frequent reader of my music reviews, you will know that Jack is a common denominator for almost all of my favorite albums, whether it is for his own band Bleachers, or for the many other incredible artists he has co-written and produced music with. His music has impacted me in such a deeply profound way over the years. 

In 2021 for his interview with Rolling Stone he said, "We were finding ourselves together on Melodrama. She was in a remarkably fascinating place. The second album is a monster, and the second album is a mountain. And she had all these added pressures of what had happened in the first album, but had a very clear vision of what she wanted. I was finding myself as a producer, and I felt like we brought out the best in each other. I think my life would have been remarkably different without that."

"Liability" is one of the biggest highlights of Melodrama for me. Unlike most of her work up to this point, "Liability" is an intimate piano ballad, with the biggest emphasis on her vocal performance. Until this album, I never really heard a song quite like it before. It has so much depth and symbolism lyrically, with her asking herself what will she have left when the hypothetical party is over? At the end of the day, all you can really count on is you, so you need to love yourself. This type of introspection also feels so connected to the album's closing track "Perfect Places" and Solar Power's "Stoned at the Nail Salon" too. 

"The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy, till all of the tricks don't work anymore and then they are bored of me," she sings. "I know that it's exciting, running through the night, but every perfect summer's eating me alive until you're gone, better on my own". The song's closing lines of "they're all gonna watch me disappear into the sun" also holds so much more meaning after her follow-up of Solar Power too.

Another song that has always been one of my favorites ever since I first heard it is "The Louvre", it is such a gorgeous love song that showcases her songwriting talent so beautifully. As a listener, you can really feel how strong the emotions are behind her words.

One of my favorite lyrics on the entire album is; "But we're the greatest, they'll hang us in The Louvre, down the back, but who cares still The Louvre". Light-hearted anecdotes like that mixed in with so many of the other beautiful lyrical highs of this song have always stood out to me as some of her best. This whole song and that line specifically feels like it came so full-circle recently because a photo of her from her 2021 American Vogue cover is actually hanging in The Louvre right now for an exhibit dedicated to Elsa Schaparelli's designs! 

Another stunning example of her songwriting and her ability to make the listener feel every emotion she's feeling is for "Hard Feelings / Loveless". She is reminiscing on a past relationship, sung over a dreamy instrumental - the lyricism of the first part is so gorgeous and flows like poetry. Just a few of the standout lyrics are, "'Cause I remember the rush, when forever was us, before all of the winds of regret and mistrust", "I light all the candles, cut flowers for all my rooms, I care for myself the way I used to care about you", and "It's time to let go of this endless summer afternoon".

She carries so many of those emotions into "Writer in the Dark" as well, which is simply such an incredible song. She sings in the chorus, "Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark, now she's gonna play and sing and lock you in her heart". When talking about this song she said, "It’s not a historical document. It’s not a police record. It’s not journalism. I didn’t go to journalism school. I’m a writer. It’s about what I felt and sometimes you can feel an element of guilt or ‘Oh God, I shouldn’t have immortalised that person’, but the song is my way of saying ‘It’s what I’ve always been. It’s what I was when you met me. It’s what I will continue to be after you leave. That’s exactly what was going to happen when you kissed a writer in the dark."

This song specifically, but actually Melodrama as a whole feels so connected to New York City, the listener can really visualize the setting through her words. She captured that energy in such a special way, kind of making the city a character in itself throughout the record. "When you see me, will you say I've changed? I ride the subway, read the signs, I let the seasons change my mind, I love it here since I’ve stopped needing you". I also love the lyric, "I am my mother's child, I love you till my breathing stops". There are so many powerful lines, but lyrically and vocally, "Writer in the Dark" is such a highlight of the album. 

Production-wise, "Supercut" it is another one of the best on the album. It is sonically a lot lighter than the previous two songs I talked about. Just like a song such as "Green Light", some of the deeply emotional and intense lyrics are shaded behind the fun pop instrumentals, but if you listen deeper there is a bigger story being told. In the song, Lorde sings about all of the "wild and flourescent" memories coming back and wanting to relive those moments again and again. 

The final song, "Perfect Places" is by far my favorite by Lorde as well as a song that holds so much meaning for me. One of my favorite lyrics ever is "All of my heroes are fading, now I can't stand to be alone, lets go to perfect places". Whenever I hear that lyric now, I still can't believe I had the opportunity to tell Jack Antonoff how much I love this song, more specifically that lyric, at Electric Lady Studios last year. The way it references "All My Heroes" by Bleachers, "New York" by St. Vincent and "The Archer" by Taylor Swift is a lyrical connection that I always loved so much - in a small way it ties all four of those incredible albums together too. That was a moment I will never forget and the anecdote he shared about the hero connections makes those four songs so much more special to me now too. If you're interested, you can read more about that experience here.

Throughout all of Melodrama, she is searching for answers, wanting to know all the reasons why, waiting for the "green light" - but with this song she ends it all with saying "what the f*ck are perfect places anyway?" No longer striving for perfection and finding peace in imperfection feels like such a triumph as the conclusion to the story being told throughout Melodrama

"I was living in New York during summer last year, writing Melodrama – I’d ride across the Brooklyn Bridge every day, or sit on the subway Uptown in the heat, then go back home to New Zealand winter for a week at a time to party with my friends. My life was like a weird little etch-a-sketch I kept scribbling on and resetting," she wrote for her Facebook commentary in 2017.  "And all last summer, I couldn’t shake the feeling that everyone I knew or saw was searching for something – trying to transcend the news and the screaming pavements, drinking that one drink hoping it’d get them someplace higher. This song comes from that endless cycle of evenings and the violent heat of the summer."

Listening to this album now, half a decade later, I still feel just as connected to it now as I did when I first heard it in 2017. This music instantly transports me back to my first few semesters of college where this was literally the only album I would listen to. I have so many memories attached to this music and I have loved getting to share my love for it through this review!

Thank you so much for reading! I'd love to hear all of your thoughts on the album in the comment section below! 

The day I am posting this is also the five year anniversary of when I started my blog, so I wanted to take a second to say how thankful I am for all of the support over the years! There is so much more to come!

Melodrama Forever! 

-Melissa ♡

Photo Credit:

Lorde, Sam McKinniss, Theo Wenner, Republic Records 


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