Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Albums of the Year 2013 #9 - Lorde - Pure Heroine

2013 has been a good year for pop. Not the bland lowest common denominator pop that the likes of, Olly Murs and their like continue to peddle out, but pop that has a sense of substance, lyrical interest and a hint of thought beyond how to get a-list radio plays and subsequent chart to bargain bin sales.

No one artist has typified good pop more than Lorde. Royals, a song that shrugs off the aspirations of much of modern pop culture (“gold teeth, Grey Goose, tripping in the bathroom” or "Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timpiece, jet planes, islands, tiger's on a gold leash, we don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair") went from free download / blog buzz hype track to worldwide chart topper over the course of about 11 months and has given its young protagonist Ella Yelich-O’Connor the opportunity to experience exactly the things she sang about if she wanted. But Ella appears to be cut from a different cloth. Her album Pure Heroine fights against the standard pop formula of glamour and romance; in a cooly detached voice she sings of being “kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air,” and “it’s a new art form, showing people how little we care.” It’s the type of album that only a bored 16 year old teenager living many miles from New York or London could make.

Despite its disenchanted lyrical approach, musically Pure Heroine is bang on the money. Sticking to a template of near minimalism, this record is all about subtle beats, effects and electronic simplicity with nods to both hip-hop and modern R ‘n’ B. Pure Heroine isn’t packed with variety – there’s one great idea carried through coloured in different shades – but that’s the point; it’s a great idea. 

In a year when the best pop has matched other genres not only in its traditional battleground of the singles chart but with quality albums that deserve to be taken seriously, Lorde’s Pure Heroine has been part of that charge. 

Lorde - Royals (Video)

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