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Album Review: Lorde – Pure Heroine

2013 has been witness to the phenomenal rise of Ella Yelich-O’Connor; the 16-year-old New Zealander who posted her first EP on Soundcloud towards the end of last year and is now currently commanding the Billboard Charts for a third week.

Her recent single ‘Royals’ has sold over 1m copies in the US, knocking Miley Cyrus from the top of the charts – a remarkable feat for a teenager, too young to fathom the success surely. It’s refreshing then that the Auckland native seems unfazed by her newfound fame.

That said, she’s by no means of a shy disposition – recently selling out her debut UK show in just four minutes, Lorde took to the stage expressing an extraordinary confidence: “Why aren’t you dancing? This is bullshit“. Arguably, this is Lorde’s year and she’s set to let everybody know it, shunning critics on her way to unquestionable global stardom.

She’s already turned down the chance to support Katy Perry on tour and the aforementioned ‘Royals’ is the first song – from a female solo artist – in seventeen years to top Billboard’s Alternative Chart.

Close your eyes and you could be mistaken for thinking it’s Lana Del Rey on first listen; though it feels a lousy comparison after hearing debut offering, Pure Heroine: a clear statement of intent from the young artist.

Her stark individualism is conveyed through undeniably infectious hooks, slick production and intelligent lyricism. Thankfully, she’s not yet parading half-naked, showing the world how great her waxer is -she’s clever this one. She found her talents writing short fiction, which undoubtedly helped when writing the lyrics that form Pure Heroine.

Captivating and genuine, her intelligence is evident from the very first line of her debut, “Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk?” – through to the final line, “Let ‘em talk”.

Album opener ‘Tennis Court’, is awash with electronic touches and reverbed synths as her carefully constructed lyrics touch on youth culture and impending fame: “Baby be the class clown / I’ll be the beauty queen in tears.”

Following track, ‘400 Lux’, is a further exploration of producer Joel Little’s gloomy sonics, with its broody synth opening and deep bass lines. Likewise, ‘Royals’ accentuates the duo’s partnership –minimalistic yet tantalizing pop hooks and layered backing vocals heighten Lorde’s lustrous musings.

Destined to follow in the same light as its predecessors, ‘Ribs’ finds Lorde reminding us of her youth, talking about how it “feels so scary getting old” as she references Broken Social Scene, “’Lover’s Spit’ left on repeat”; whilst pulsing beats carry her vocals.

Twinkling keys and her ever-sweet melodies feature amongst powerful backing beats throughout ‘Buzzcut Season’ before gentle swathes of synth on ‘Team’ and ‘Glory And Gore’. The familiar, anthemic chorus of ‘Team’ is accompanied by throbbing drums and the mockery of popular culture, “I’m kind of over gettin’ told to throw my hands up in the air”; ironically, a theme that remains evident in ‘Glory and Gore’. The latter, rather expertly expressing celebrity culture through striking gladiatorial lyricism; “glory and gore go hand in hand, that’s why we’re making headlines”.

However, it’s perhaps not until the ethereal ‘Still Sane’ that the reflection of Lorde’s “new found fame” and tender years are truly expressed; “Still like hotels, and my newfound fame / Hey, promise I can stay good”.

‘White Teeth Teens’ is a jangly pop number once more, with subtle electronic touches and driving beats, whilst album closer ‘A World Alone’ is a stunning end to an astonishingly accomplished debut from the 16-year-old.

A record full of promise and polished production, ‘Pure Heroine’ continues to prove the “queen bee” is more than worthy of her newfound fame. Let’s just hope she doesn’t don a mallet or crop her glossy mane anytime soon.

- Hannah Daisy

Pure Heroin is out 28th October on Universal



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