I try my best to approach new albums like fine wine, remaining mindful and deliberate and never rushing to conclusions. It took a few "sips" to get into what Lorde is trying to convey to her audience with her new album, Pure Heroine. Ever since the young New Zealander built up hype with her single "Royals" her album has been eagerly anticipated by fans across the globe.
Lorde's voice is a tease throughout the album. Her vocals often rise above the steady instrumentals, grabbing your attention with astute lyrics, only to retreat back into the crooning that Lorde seems most comfortable with. However, the level and controlled delivery veils the potency of Lorde's voice. Lorde is remarkably reminiscent of Lana Del Rey. I'm usually reluctant to compare new artists to established musicians, but the similarities here are too obvious to ignore. While Lorde's delivery is less cabaret-like than her American counterpart's, the way she croons deceptively dense lyrics over minimalist beats is definitely on par.
The songs on Pure Heroine are packed with lyrics that showcase Lorde's youth and maturity, such as the line, "This dream isn't feeling sweet. / We're reeling through the midnight streets. / And I've never felt more alone. / It's so scary getting old," on the song "Ribs." Her music seems to capture the growing pains that pervade every teenager's life. Pure Heroine takes feelings that most people are afraid to dwell upon and holds them up as a main attraction. Lorde's candid and forthcoming nature is prominent on the song "Team," one of the highlights of the album. Upbeat vocals and an expansive chorus are paired with verses about the grandiosity of youth; Lorde suggests that even though cameras may not be rolling, there is no shortage of glory to be had. Just as she relays a sense of unlimited freedom in one song, Lorde flips the script in "Glory and Gore," my favorite track on the album. In this song, freedom has become anarchy. The instrumentals are compact and the lyrics are visceral.
Lorde's lyrics construct a narrative for every track, causing the album as a whole to feel like a story. That's the magic of this debut: it captures the whirlwind of change that defines what it means to be young. That Lorde is able to convey this dynamic within a 10-song LP would be a feat in itself, but she also manages to do so without coming off as pretentious or unoriginal.
Some might deem this album too slow or mellow, while others may feel it describes a time in life to which they can no longer relate. But if you allow yourself to indulge in Lorde's candid testimony about what it feels like to be raised within a world of ambivalence, you're likely to be taken aback by the efforts of this 16-year-old.