I remember the first time I listened to Melodrama; in the dark of my bedroom on release night, with the volume up full. When Lorde told us she was about to “make em’ all dance to it”, she wasn’t lying. Three years on, this is still an album I revisit regularly. With her vocals, song writing, and production melting together to construct a soundtrack of adolescent loneliness, Melodrama deserves all the critical acclaim it receives.
This album run was the first time I saw Ella live and as anyone that knows me can attest, I didn’t shut up about it for weeks (possibly years). As expected, this show did not disappoint. Not only did she keep my favourite song from Pure Heroine, ‘Buzzcut Season’, on the set list, but experiencing Melodrama live brought the album to life just how I imagined it would. The ‘Europe Dance’ leg of the tour was much more intimate than the later North American leg, and this fitted the concept of the album perfectly. The feeling of jumping up and down, drenched in sweat, surrounded by 4000 other people doing exactly the same thing while Ella closed the show with ‘Green Light’, cannot be matched. This intense energy replicated during other songs such as ‘Perfect Places’ and ‘Supercut’, was contrasted with the slower, quieter nature of the self-reflective tracks; ‘Liability’ and ‘Liability (Reprise)’. It’s quite nice to know that in a room full of so many people, it’s not just you that feels a bit too much for everyone.
I had just finished my first year of college when this album was released and now, as I head into my third year of university, it has grown with me and come to define these past few years of my life. One line remains as poignant as ever: “I hate the headlines and the weather.” With this album, it’s as if Ella bottled up the consciousness of everyone in their late teens and poured this into a sparkling potion, depicting the highs and lows of adolescence. On first listen, I didn’t click with now favourite ‘Liability’. To me it felt so removed from the sound she had fostered, and I had come to love, from Pure Heroine. I didn’t appreciate just how vulnerable this track was. Now, as with many of us I’m sure, this is my go-to for when I want to listen to sad music just to make myself feel worse. I’m not sure why it feels so good, but we all do it.
As the album develops through the loose concept of a house party, Ella regains some confidence, and with this confidence comes acceptance. The sixth track ‘Hard Feelings/Loveless’ is where this acceptance begins to develop; ‘I care for myself the way I used to care about you.’ With this track, Ella reminds herself of her worth and begins to rebuild her identity following heartbreak. Although at this point, she has not fully removed herself from her break up; ‘but I still remember everything, how we’d drift buying groceries’, accepting that she has to move on from the mundane, she comes to realise that she’s not who she thought she was. Identity in adolescence is complex and hard to navigate, with this album, Lorde provides some comfort. Through self-reflection and metaphor, she authentically soundtracks how we all feel deep down.
Three years later, Melodrama still lives up to what it set out to do. Describing the “glamour and the trauma, and the fucking melodrama” of growing up, with songs that are at once highly personal and deeply generalisable. Melodrama is one of those albums that you press play on when you are at your most vulnerable; feeling alone, confused and ironically, melodramatic. Ella, if you’re reading this, I cannot wait to hear you soundtrack my twenties.
– Tilly Attrill
For a more in depth look at how Lorde maintains communication with her fans, check out Tilly’s article on how the artist remains relevant without social media
Featured Image Source: Still via Lorde // Youtube. Director of Photography: Rik Zang