Lorde – Pure Heroine

by Emily Pratten

After single Royals received a monumental amount of attention in what seemed like 24 hours, it appeared as though the music world waited with baited breath to hear what Lorde’s debut effort as a whole would bring.

Born Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor in a small town in New Zealand, it is almost difficult to say anything bad about this album considering that she is only 17. The fact that Lorde is younger than me and is the only artist from New Zealand ever to have a Nimber 1 single in the United States makes me feel awfully unsuccessful as a human being. However, to assess the quality of this album based on her age could be seen as patronising, in all honesty, and if I was Lorde (which unfortunately I am just not) I would want my creative efforts to be taken seriously.

The genre would be in the electro-pop sphere, although having grown up listening to soul musicians, it is easy to see where the likes of Etta James features in her work. There are synth elements and acoustic elements and very simplistic sounds constructed in such a fashion that it remains both basic and interesting, which is a harmony that could often be perceived as being hard to actually get right. How do you do simple without being boring?

I feel the answer to that question lies in the lyrics, in which Lorde depicts the inane trivialities of suburban life, and the gulf between celebrity and the average person that the hype over the glamour of pop music seems to have created. It is cliché to say that the sentiments expressed in these lyrics are beyond her age, but the fact is that they are, and it’s refreshing to hear such things in chart music. In the same vein, it’s also refreshing to hear something different in the charts. The formulaic compositions of Guetta and Harris are overdone; the rising tempo and pitch reaching a peak before the bass drops, accompanied by a strong female vocal has been recipe for a chart topper or summer anthem for a while now. Too long.

Having said that, the fact that Lorde is so different means a lot of pressure has unintentionally been put on this album to perform, to deliver some kind of God-like sanctuary and rescue us from the dreary repetition of the chart-topping so called ‘mega-hits’. Whilst being a very good album, and musically very intricate and interesting, it is not amazing. It is not the best album of the year, to go against what a lot of keen music enthusiasts are suggesting. After a while, it appears slightly repetitive in itself. Perhaps repeated listening would provide salvation from this effect, but the songs blur into one after a while making it difficult to decide where to settle in terms of the album’s true quality. Yet, I admire it’s ideological observations and it’s political protests, and it’s Lana Del Rey-esque vocal as well.

Pure Heroine has almost shot itself in the foot, as the reason for it’s success could be the very reason it just isn’t quite a 1010 album. It just doesn’t live up to the extreme hype pushed upon it. It’s not bad at all, but it’s not an enormous ground-breaking spectacle either. Team, Royals, and A World Alone are excellent songs - the choruses are exceptionally catchy and you can’t really fault the production of this album. If you’re into quirky beats with a slightly less deep and dramatic Lana Del Rey-kind-of-vibe then this is your album, especially if you’re into belittling ‘Grey Goose’ and ‘gold teeth’ and other such needless celebrity accessories.

It looks like I’m dithering on the fence with this one, but I assure you I’m not. At least, I don’t think I am. It’s a tough one to interpret as a critic, as I respect the work and the sentiment a great deal, and the music is good. But that’s all really. Not amazing. Just very good. The irony lies in the fact that I feel Pure Heroine has simply been hindered by the hype.