Album review: Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ sounds maddeningly shapeless

Annie Zaleski

Three stars

Lorde Melodrama

Lorde stormed the music world in 2013 with songs like “Royals” and “Tennis Court,” which established her bona fides as a keen observer of teenage class warfare. Melodrama has the same outsider veneer—“They’ll hang us in the Louvre/Down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre,” she shrugs—although the record’s too-real chronicle of wild nights, questionable decisions and romantic ambiguity is universal and relatable. The record’s unorthodoxy emerges in its details. Each song is an electro-pop pastiche, sometimes with bustling production (the cobweb beats and synth creaks throughout “Hard Feelings” the limb-flailing standout “Green Light”) and other times conjuring icons (“Writer in the Dark,” which features ornate vocal phrasings that recall Kate Bush; the Carly Rae Jepsen-like New Wave cool on “Supercut). As an artistic statement, however, Melodrama sounds maddeningly shapeless—disparate ideas that never quite gel or find a consistent groove. That’s frustrating, because the record’s unpredictable arrangements can lead to great moments, like the way Lorde repeatedly whispers “d-d-d-dynamite” to convey an explosive connection on “Homemade Dynamite” or the stuttering Phil Collins-sounding sample that introduces “Loveless.” Melodrama is best considered a reflection of the furtive moments that comprise a messy life.

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