BY LAURIE SNELL
New Zealand’s singer-songwriter Lorde has taken her style of artsy, electro-pop confessionals to the next level with the release of Pure Heroine on Sept. 30 in North America – an extended release of the May 2013 album, The Love Club EP.
While the album has been out for just over a month, Lorde’s tunes are just starting to gain momentum with megahits such as Tennis Courts and Royals, that refreshingly declare the benefits of living a simple life with integrity. Her humbleness in itself is an attitude that stands out in this world of twerking, cupcake bras, substance abuse, hotel trashing and an excess of, well, everything.
Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor – or Lorde for short – reaffirms her musical and personal poise with hard-hitting lyrics that call out the falsities and shallowness of fame and fortune.
In her sardonic music video for her chart-topping hit Royals, the 16-year-old Auckland native sits in a chair with her full chestnut mane untamed, belting out lines that exhibit her portentous disapproval of musical counterparts like Kanye West or Kesha – Every song’s like gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom, blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room. We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams. Images of empty rooms in the suburbs, hydro wires, a television without cable and public transit, Lorde makes it clear she has no time for the sexual exploitation, underage drinking or drug use that we have become so accustomed to seeing in pop culture.
Other songs on the album, such as Team, provide a quick tempo chant, transporting the listener to what sounds like a debutante ball, and reveals her unequivocal feminist ideals. Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run free, living in ruins of the palace within my dreams. And you know we’re on each other’s team.
The newest single, Tennis Courts, further plays on her surprisingly mature social commentary, opening the song rather conversationally with, Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk? Advocating that gossip and bullying are a waste of time is a message all too prevalent in today’s society of cyber-bullying. Often, empowering messages get lost in translation because female artists are swayed into nudity or lavish living that contradicts their intent. But, sticking to her modesty, Lorde wears dark makeup with a plain black backdrop for the duration of the video – proving she won’t become a hypocrite, just socially observant – as she has been known to describe herself.
Messages that inspire confidence resonate well with parents, but that does not make Lorde any less cool. Fans young and old can call (her) Queen Bee of the Billboard Top 40 with Royals at No. 1 for the last six weeks, validating her talent from all over the world.
With her anthem discrediting large celebrity egos, unnecessary lavish lifestyles and preaching modesty, Lorde’s words hopefully will be absorbed by younger generations who are literally exposed to vain celebrities every day. The 16-year-old condemns materialism, sex, substance abuse and attention seeking – and understands that there are bigger issues in the world that need attention. The fifth track on the album, Buzzcut Season, provides a mature, social commentary on how our world is evolving and our priorities may not be in check. Explosions on TV, and all the girls with heads inside a dream, she sings. The men up on the news, they try to tell us all that we will lose.
Pure Heroine provides insightful lyrics, with vocals similar to the likes of Haim, Natalia Kills or Lana Del Rey. This indie electro-pop album will have music fans singing and dancing along, hoping Lorde stays true to her small-town, suburban, carefree roots.