12 October 2013

pure heroine || lorde || 2013

I remember when Alanis Morissette's brilliant album Jagged Little Pill was released, and my dad complained when her songs came on the radio because she was singing about material that he felt was too lofty for her 21-year-old mind to fully grasp. The ire of relationships, frustration with the apathy of one's friends and relatives -- though my dad thought these topics were out of Morissette's league, I was much too young to understand his frustration, and I assumed that one day I'd share his sentiment. In retrospect, I think one's early 20s are a perfect time to write about such things, and that my dad was full of it for downplaying her (but I love him anyway).

I mention Alanis because I've heard similar complaints about Lorde. At just 16, she's already topped the Hot 100 with a song that I've heard described as "preachy," "a lecture," and "condescending." I, however, find it to be none of those.

Put yourself in the place of a kid who grows up with parents who aren't rich. They don't even have to be poor, just not wealthy. Now imagine absorbing the media of a foreign country where opulence is idolized. The feelings of confusion and contentment are delivered in no obscure terms in the album's lead single, "Royals." The language isn't the least bit lofty, yet the message is communicated without the slightest hint of adolescent awkwardness. This is why many are rightfully seeing Lorde as mature for her age.

"Tennis Court" is a perfect follow-up to "Royals." Whereas in the first song we heard about all the things that Lorde and her friends don't do, we find out how they do indeed spend their time in "Tennis Court." The lyrics of the verse beginning "pretty soon I'll be getting on my first plane" tell us that she knows her life is about to change, that new adventures await, but that she is not without reservations.

"Ribs" and "Team" are both magnificent portraits of youth. Formulating inside jokes with your friends and then beating them into the ground until you're all laughing so hard that it feels like your insides are bleeding -- who hasn't done this? "Ribs" also reminds us that before we're even adults that it's easy to long for younger days. "Team" is the ultimate frenemies anthem. It's about that feeling that you can be in a room full of people and still somehow feel alone. How close are you to the people who you call your friends?

After several listens, I'm still not quite sure what to make of "White Teeth Teens," but I sense that she's using that term in the same way I used the word "preppie" in middle school: The rich kids who clique up and don't associate with anyone else. The Amy-Winehouse style instrumentation on this track is also worth noting. I only see Lorde's music getting more interesting as her career advances. Her tales of life as a 16-year-old kiwi have already captured the world's attention, so let's hope that success doesn't change this girl's wonderful spirit.



Anonymous said...

What about her love for a boy that doesn't seem to want her as anything but a friend, as she sings about him in "Buzzcut Season" and "400 Lux."