And so there you have it. Lorde’s Melodrama is (by the thinnest of whiskers) my favourite album of the year.
Why? For one really simple reason. When I look back across 2017 it’s the record that has glued itself to me the most. It was undoubtedly the soundtrack to my summer, but in the cold of winter it’s still there.
Melodrama is a pop record. There’s a school of thought, particularly amongst certain rock fans that all pop music is transient and disposable. But to adopt that view is blinkered; great pop can carry as much emotional and intellectual resonance as any record from so called ‘serious’ genres. And Melodrama carries its weight very well.
For anyone who has been living under a rock in 2017 Melodrama is Lorde’s second album, the follow up to her 2013 debut Pure Heroine, which was ninth on my end of year list. It’s core themes are the highs and lows of relationships and using hedonism to block out the break-up lows. If that all sounds a bit ‘we kissed then split and I got drunk in da club’ boring then let’s remember that we’re talking about Lorde here and one of the things that makes her so special is her clear strength of character, intelligence and ability to pen fascinating turns of phrase. “Blow all my friendships to sit in hell with you, but we’re the greatest, they’ll hang us in the Louvre, down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre,” she sings in a line that is brilliantly reckless, self-aware and oddly positive on one of my favourite songs The Louvre. Oh, and from the some song: "I over think your punctuation use." I don't even know why I love this line so much, but maybe it's because my own punctuation is pretty appalling at times so what does that say about me?
As a listener and a fan, it’s inevitable that sometimes we have certain expectations of an artist. For example, if you’re a fan of The National you probably wouldn’t expect them to team up with Calvin Harris to produce an album of happy ravey house bangers ready for Ibiza and may well be disappointed if they did. My concern with Lorde after Pure Heroine was that essentially Pure Heroine had just 1 musical idea - a very strong idea – but only one. It was an album painted in the black and white of minimalist electronic pop. If she repeated that idea on album 2 the idea would soon get cold and as a listener I’d be putting on my coat and trudging off home. Melodrama needed more than just 1 USP for me and by gosh, it delivered on those expectations. It nearly went rainbow technicolour. It had proper all out pop dance bangers like Green Light and Supercut, heartbreaking ballads like Liability: “They say you’re a little too much for me, you’re a liability….so they pull back, make other plans, I understand” but still carried the essence of the debut album on songs like Homemade Dynamite. Melodrama cast Lorde’s net wider and now gives her platform to go in many directions for album three. Even though this is an exceptional pop record it gives you the impression that there could be even better still to come.
Ultimately what has made Lorde’s Melodrama my album of the year is the same thing that has defined past favourites; great songs. Pure and simple. It hooked me in on first listen and hasn’t let go since.
Lorde - Green Light
Lorde - Perfect Places (Video)