Album Review by Bradley Stier
It’s been an amazing year for Lorde. Talk of her has been bandied about the blogosphere for the better part of a year, reaching a crescendo when her EP The Love Club was released late 2012. One little earworm from that EP has slowly but surely worked its way into the collective consciousness of the mainstream and now sits pretty at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. This song is, of course, the now ubiquitous “Royals.”
“Royals” is an excellent calling card for what awaits listeners on Lorde’s debut full-length Pure Heroine. The album is filled with simple spacey beats and minimal production, rich, mature vocals, and, most excitingly, the 16 year-old’s biting commentary and confessional lyrics. Quietly, beautifully eviscerating the pop landscape’s obsession with sex and money, Lorde’s vision is stunning in its focus and honesty.
Where Lorde truly shines though is when she turns the mirror onto herself and reveals her disillusionment, hope and fear. The bracing honesty of “Ribs” reveals a depth of maturity about relationships missing from just about any other song on the radio today. And while all this may seem heavy, the genius of Lorde and her producer Joel Little is the way they keep the atmosphere sparse, and the vocals deep and smoky, but rarely pained. Songs like “400 Lux” and “A World Alone” transcends the weight of their subject matter and twitch to their dark disco beats.
It is rare that an artist this exciting comes along and so immediately captures the public’s attention with such a disparate aesthetic. Lorde is an exciting, deep breath of fresh air. Pure Heroine is a beguiling, immediate, and vital debut statement that is sure to please not only the music aficionado but also the casual pop consumer. That’s a good thing because it has much to say to and about both.
Pure Heroine is out on Sept. 30 on Universal Records.