Written by M.J. Rawls
1. a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions.
2. (historical) a play interspersed with songs and orchestral music accompanying the action.
Heartbreak can be both a source for great pain and inspiration — a double-edged sword when it comes to creating art. How do you draw inspiration while your heart and head are trying to get back on the same page? In what methods do you try to combat those arrows to find some sort of resolution?
Lorde’s sophomore album, Melodrama, co-produced/co-written by Bleachers‘ Jack Antonoff one part theater, one part conscious stream of the ebb and flows of losing the one you love. These songs work very much in the phases of pre and post breakup. The 11-track story is engineered in way where you can visualize them both what would be considered flashbacks and what Lorde’s then current emotional state was.
“Green Light.” the first single from the album starts off with a piano progression that is very reminiscent of a show tune. Like a first scene or roll of film in a movie, we hear the singer struggle with moving on from the recent breakup. In a NY Times article, Lorde stated that she says sound-to-color synesthesia which allows her to see colors in music. Colors are a very prevalent theme in Melodrama, particularly in “Green Light” where Lorde is waiting for these memories to fade in order to move on. The chorus of the song breaks into an explosion of synths and percussion that makes you want to dance yourself free of those feelings.
Some of the musical themes in Lorde’s 2013 debut, Pure Heroine still live in the progression of her music. The very minimalist, stripped electronic sound grows into the height of the sound such as “Sober” and “Homemade Dynamite”. Another one of the inspirations of this album was to be at a singular house party. “Sober” and “Homemade Dynamite” are very much up-tempo companion pieces where you want to escape whatever emotional ailment you have – sometimes that means, substances, dancing yourself clean, or through another person.The last track, “Perfect Places” concludes this theme and the party. After all the things that we use to get us to escape our pain, we have to question what we consider “home.”
There are two different types of emotional recollection present in Melodrama. One is the beauty of starting of the honeymoon period in a relationship. “The Louvre,” co-produced by Flume and Malay, gives a euphoric feeling at the start of loving someone. It begins with acoustic guitar and takes form to the very airy feeling that Flume’s music has – very much like you are walking into an art museum.
“Blow all my friendships/to sit in hell with you.” “They’ll hang us in the Louvre.”
You will discard everything to have a chance at love that you feel is perfect. “Supercut” is looking back at all the home movies in your head and realizing maybe it wasn’t so perfect.
One of the most powerful songs of the album takes the emotional level to it’s peak. “Liability” is comprised of Lorde’s voice and a simple piano.During an interview with Beats 1 , the schematics of this song started to come together as her broke into tears hearing Rihanna’s “Higher.” “Higher,” which is from 2016’s Anti depicts Rihanna confessing her love to someone in a drunken state. Lorde’s state of confession is that her fame makes her feel like a liability. With love and fame, she questions if she can have both as it’s her gift that is indirectly bringing her grief. Some people cannot handle how white hot your bright lines can be.
When you enter a relationship with a writer, there’s an unwritten rule that you are going to be words on a page at some point. “Writer In The Dark,” has one of the most notable lines in the album: “Bet you rue the day that you kissed a writer in the dark.”
Of course, there’s trying to find your place in the world given the aftermath and anger. “Hard Feelings/Loveless” show two sides of the coin. The first part which has musical effects that act like a dream sequence where Lorde is trying to live in self-love to find who she is outside of her lost relationship. “Loveless” enters with a hard pair of 808 programmed drums and the lyrics are sung in a very playful manner despite them being confrontational. There’s a natural feeling of comeuppance to find strength when someone has wronged you, but the lyrics also look outward into this notion that the millennial generation may not value love in the same way.
As “Sober II’ plays with a collection of strings, the party starts to die down. People start to return to their homes and the heartbroken are left within the battle of their thoughts. This and “Liability” reprise which features an Imogen Heap-like vocal effect feels like the curtain call on a very becoming two year period in Lorde’s life. In the same New York Times interview, Lorde spoke of being in the New York subways during the recording of this album. The amount of people with their own problems, thoughts, and vice can make you feel minuscule. Melodrama keeps some semblance in the musical structure in the up-tempo pop that we’ve come to love. The songs are also made in such a way that you can picture being in that room where things are written or looking on in that party.