Beginning with the lyric “Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk?” and ending with the lyric “let them talk”, Lorde’s Pure Heroine proves it’s easily the most cleverly constructed album of this decade. After releasing The Love Club EP last November, it’s been a solid rise for the young artist. With a spate of number ones under her belt, including in the US Alt charts, the young Kiwi had a lot to live up to with this release. Fortunately, Pure Heroine delivers on the promise of leading singles Royals and Tennis Court in spades.
Lorde and her producer Joel Little have created a heavy synth soundscape. Evocative of the xx or Charli XCX, it sounds like it was plucked straight out of London. Pure Heroine feels honest; it’s the disinterest in her lyrics and voice that keeps it interesting.
On first listen, it surprised me that the song that was the flashpoint of her career, Royals, is actually the least interesting on the album. The rest of Pure Heroine is far more complex, multi-layered and luxuriously produced.
Lorde’s voice is most comfortable at the lower registers. Glory and Gore with its haunting, darker lyrics and production serving as the tipping point from the first half of the album. Buzzcut Season could be a Florence + the Machine track. With the piano and drum pulsing the rhythm just behind her voice, which is pitched much higher, making for a markedly beautiful song.
In fact, it’s the middle half of Pure Heroine that stands out most, including Ribs and current single Team. She’s vocally her strongest during this section, and Little’s production is at its most rich.
The phrase voice of a generation is thrown around all too often these days. Lorde is not the voice of a generation. She is the voice of those bored by their generation. She represents anyone who laments the shallow, vacuous medal-for-participation generation of brats that she grows up in. It’s rare that such insightful commentary on a generation comes from within that generation, from an outsider on the inside, but it’s just that kind of commentary that reigns throughout Pure Heroine.
While, everybody is stunned by her age, more stunning is the depth and maturity of her voice and lyrics when stacked up even against older, more established artists who lack her perspicacity. And if she’s producing this quality now, I eagerly anticipate her sure to be exceptional future. This is the new standard for pop.