If her larger-than-life curls and anti-consumerist summer hit “Royals” weren’t enough to establish Lorde as the coolest girl in pop, her debut album Pure Heroine surely will. Just ten tracks long, the album explores themes of materialism, suburban life, aging, and adolescence to a heavy beat and jaded lyrics.
For those of you who are a little late to board the Lorde train, the sixteen year old hails from New Zealand where she is currently completing her final year of school. Discovered at a talent show when she was just twelve, Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s taken the last three years to develop both her songwriting skills and her persona, embodied by her ironically regal stage name. Smart, sassy, and down-to-earth, Lorde transcends the teen popstar stereotype and has been lauded by critics for her sharp, honest songwriting skills ever since she dropped The Love Club EP (which she originally released for free because she “thought people [her age] would appreciate it”) this March.
While the album is admirably conceptual and worth a thorough listen (my heart exploded a little with that closing answer, “let them talk”), a few songs stand out enough to win over even the casual listener:
Obviously a critical and commercial success already, “Royals” epitomizes Lorde’s sound; a little beatnik-y and very catchy, the song makes a jab at the overwhelming excess of pop culture and embraces the diamond-less, torn-up town life.
The song opens with the whine of a siren and picks up into the cool, bare beat that’s Lorde’s signature. A song about nothing really, Lorde realistically sings of the feeling of being a teenager in love—driving through monotonous suburbs and having shallow conversations while you pass the time together—and enjoying it. The simple, yet movingly earnest confession at the end of the chorus (“I’d like it if you stayed”) will be stuck in your head for days.
There’s a dreamlike aspect to this track that brings to mind images of some hedonistic scene in Skins, yet the lyrics are quite the opposite and far more self-aware than that. Arguably the most vulnerable song on the album, Lorde laments age’s failure to live up to her expectations (“This dream isn’t feeling sweet/we’re reeling through the midnight streets/and I’ve never felt more alone” ) and longs for days of laughing until her ribs hurt with her childhood friends.
4. “Tennis Court”
The juxtaposition of the music video and album art speaks for itself. In the words of Lorde, it’s pretty rad.
Not on the album but also worth a listen are “Bravado”, “Swingin’ Party” (her haunting Replacements cover), and this work of art.