Talk about mind-blowing; how about New Zealand singer-songwriter Ella Maria Lani Yelich O’Connor popularly known as Lorde is only 16 years old! The Indie-Pop music sensation has been the talk of music media and blogs as the artist to watch for months now and after listening to her album, we can say that’s rightfully so. At just 13, Lorde – daughter of prize-winning Poet Sonja Yelich – scored a record deal with Universal Music Group after being scouted by an A&R rep in a talent show. In three short years, Lorde has developed her songwriting skills and released a five-track chart topping debut EP titled The Love Club in 2012, while her recently released debut album Pure Heroine has been met with critical and commercial acclaim.
Listing Otis Reading and Etta James as musicians she listened to while growing up, Lorde herself bares slight comparisons to mainstream contemporaries such as Lana Del Ray and M.I.A on her most recent body of work and debut album Pure Heroine. During an interview with MTV, Lorde said, “Pop doesn’t have to be stupid and alternative music doesn’t have to be boring; you can mesh the two together and make something cool” – Pure Heroine is the perfect example of that. The album debuted at #3 on the US Billboard 200 chart and her first single “Royals“, released a little over 6 months ago is still receiving major airplay and is sitting comfortably at #1 on Billboard’s Top 100 Singles Chart.
Following her global hit “Royals” is the album’s official second single “Tennis Court“. On the song, Lorde immediately introduces us to a vibe of wanting to be different from the “norm” which reigns throughout her album as she sings “don’t you think its boring how people talk / making smart with their words again; we’ll I’m bored”. On the flip side, lines like “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane / I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space” are just a peek into Lorde’s numerous poetically composed lyrics, you almost miss the f-bombs she throws in effortlessly on the track. Sonically, “Tennis Court” comprises of an edgy synth that looms on the chorus while the verses house minimal organ chords and shakers, courtesy of producer Joel Little – it all makes for the perfect song to open up this album and introduce us to Lorde’s unconventional music.
The song “Buzzcut Season” solidifies Lorde’s musical abilities and stands as one of the best songs on Pure Heroine. Like most of the songs on her album, the song title has little to do with the content of her lyrics, with only the first four lines relating to the “Buzzcut Season” title, “I remember when your head caught flames / it kissed your scalp and caressed your brain / well you laughed baby its okay / its buzzcut season anyway”. Lorde continues to talk about life from her teenage perspective on the laid back yet contagious Electro-Pop beat. The track is perfectly produced and arranged with persistent chords, vibrant drum patterns and Lorde’s ethereal vocals that would have you itching to replay even before the song ends.
On “Team“, Lorde further re-iterates the feeling that she’s older and wiser than she really is with lyrics like, “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air / so there”. The teen exudes a bold self-awareness on the official third single off the album, starting off with an acapella before transitioning to an instrumental filled with a simple drumbeat, synth waves and Lorde’s vocals on the radio friendly pop track. “We live in cities you’ll never see on screen” is a line where Lorde makes reference to her hometown Auckland, New Zealand where she’s from as opposed to the popular New York-type cities we’re accustomed to hearing about in songs. “Team” is a refreshing welcome on the album as we get to hear the fun side of Lorde.
If nothing else stands out on Pure Heroine, Lorde’s profound writing abilities and polished lyrics that seem to have a deeper meaning on her songs is hugely impressive. With Lorde penning all the tracks and teaming up with Joel Little on production, Pure Heroine has a congruent feel to it that more than works. The young teen has achieved quite a lot in the year, receiving rave reviews and gaining global recognition on her music and her 10-track must have debut album includes a bevy of future hits and excellently-penned songs including “400 Lux”, “Ribs”, “White Teeth Teens” and “A World Alone” which are just a few of our favorites. We certainly anticipate what’s next for Lorde following this well-crafted debut offering.
Lorde’s Pure Heroine is out in the UK on October 28 and you can purchase it on iTunes here. For our US/International readers, purchase Pure Heroine here
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Words by Temi Yembra // Edited by Ayo Adepoju