From the album title, I was expecting something far more interesting.
Lorde’s debut swept the globe and became famous for its world-weary look at teenage life, with a narrator whose voice was at once starry-eyed and pragmatic.
Melodrama’s first misstep was substituting Joel Little for Jack Antonoff. The first is a career musician whose tight instrumentation and stark production gave Pure Heroine an instantly recognisable sound and packed angst into every finger click. The latter is a hipster doofus who clearly doesn’t understand the ethos of “less is more.” The vocal melodies are either overwhelmed by the instruments or they’re left undercooked and half-arsed. Antonoff’s only success on this record is making Lorde sound like everything else on the radio.
The songs released prior to the album launch were either instantly forgettable (“Green Light”, “Perfect Places”) or mortifyingly twee (“Liability”). This pattern continues until everything is lost in a blur of boring beats and synth drone, losing the crispness for which Pure Heroine was famous.
As for the singer herself, she seems to have grown from smart, incisive teenager, to a ditzy narcissist. She sounds far less mature on her second record. Instead of cutting deep into the psyche, she focusses on light up floors, dance parties and how hard everything is for her.
I suspect this record will sell a truckload, but when the hype dies down it will be filed under “Second Album Syndrome.”