Lorde’s “Melodrama”: Captivating and overwhelmingly synesthetic

Nour Massalkhi
Senior Staff Writer

After you listen to Melodrama for the first time, it becomes evident that Ella has incorporated her familiar raw vocals, intimate lyrics and colorful beats into the album, just as she did with many songs from Pure Heroine. In this record though, Lorde intentionally takes us on a post-Pure Heroine journey to the beginnings of early adulthood.

The 11-tracked masterpiece is saturated with captivating instrumentals and an immersive bass beat that makes it impossible not to dance to. Ella’s emotions scream out, and are intricately folded into her lyrics. She pirouettes through feelings of heartache and relationships ended, calls our generation “loveless”, cries through one-night stands and pauses for the aftermath, fights for self-actualization under the limelight of fame and, of course, illustrates her euphoric realizations of being in a new city, and a new environment, at such a young age.

Lorde’s Melodrama can be described as a confused young adult’s avant-garde attempt at a journal, as she documents herself finding and embracing her individuality. The album combines several of Ella’s experiences, memories and emotions, all of which bring it to life. It is the note someone writes in the middle of the night, in bed with someone, and instantly feels the guilt of the affections crawling deep within. It is also the flashing fluorescent lights of nightclubs and billboards and traffic lights and speeding cars all at once on a busy road. It is someone’s drunken night, as they dance alone after leaving their lover, believing in the moment that it was the right thing to do. It is Lorde, in all her forms.

The album opens with ‘Green Light’, an unapologetic narrative of a girl on a late night out, after realizing that she and her partner no longer have feelings for each other. She explains the need to “pack her things, and just let go” and how she is urging herself to turn away from her partner. My favorite lines in this song are: “All those rumors, they have big teeth / Oh they bite you, thought you said that you would always be in love, / But, you’re not in love no more”. They resonate with people who have been in similar situations, who have watched their relationships dissipate, and Lorde does a fantastic job of putting thoughts into words.

‘Sober’ is about the toxicity of a relationship and how she has to hide her true feelings from her partner. It is almost as if she chooses to ignore the hurt and pain she is experiencing. ‘Homemade Dynamite’ is about Lorde embracing a stranger who reminds her so much of herself, and letting their feelings play out as the night progresses, while she has a moment of ‘love at first sight.’ ‘The Louvre’ pays homage to her once beautiful relationship, comparing it to art that belongs only in museums.

Ballads such as ‘Liability’, the first part of ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’, and ‘Writer in The Dark’ give us a deeper view into Lorde’s life. But, this is not Lorde talking, instead it is Ella singing of her heartbreak. Her feelings of betrayal, hurt, the bitter-sweetness felt towards the crippling ends of a relationship, and questions of “what if” wrap the somber piano tunes, echoing pains of her unadulterated vocals.

To me personally, the tracks that stood out the most were ‘Supercut’ and ‘Writer in the Dark’. There is something about the way the lyrics were written, the way the bass trembles in ‘Supercut’ and the way Ella’s voice trembles in ‘Writer in the Dark’ that make us feel wild and fluorescent.

One thing I could not ignore was Lorde’s effortless way of painting her songs on this specific record. While Pure Heroine was described as Lorde’s freshman, minimalistic, and all around grey-tinted self-introduction, Melodrama immersed us in the neon lights of a club after a heavy night out. In several interviews, Lorde admitted to her synesthesia playing a heavy part in this record. Her sound-to-color synesthesia allows her to envision colors when certain chords are played, and are what motivated her to shape Melodrama the way it turned out to be. To regular listeners, I would personally add that her tracks successfully sent us to ‘Perfect Places’ of brightly-tinted fluorescent billboards, lined up across the streets. It’s definitely a record to blast out loud, to reminisce upon, to scream and shout to, and to be wild and free with.

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