On the weight of breakthrough hit “Royals,” New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde released her debut album on Monday. “Pure Heroine” is a 10-track record where she delivers on sweet tunes with deep meaning. More pummeling hip-hop beats back Lorde’s whimsical lyricism about stark reality. Her gleaming hopefulness throughout makes it an enjoyable listen.
Lorde is often compared with Lana Del Rey because of their indie pop sound. The latter thrives on glamor and gloom in the high life while Lorde deconstructs a more realistic view of life. Both do a great job at what they do, which is why “Royals” became such a big track. Lorde slyly sings about the truth of youth party culture and calls out other songs that depict a high life fantasy. “We count our dollars on the train to the party / And everyone who knows us knows that we’re fine with this / We didn’t come from money,” she admits. Her soulful croon is what really makes this song, though, giving weight to big lines like: “Let me be your ruler / You can call me queen bee.”
The album’s best is beautifully twisted “Team.” Once again hip-hop beats usher in Lorde but glowing synths soon kick in after. With her picturesque lyrics, she tells a different kind of fairytale love story. “Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams and you know we’re on each other’s team,” she sings. Lorde even finds time to take another shot at generic pop songs with the line: “I’m kind of over of being told to throw my hands up in the air, so there.”
Another theme that runs through “Pure Heroine” is Lorde’s fixation on super white teeth. Specifically on “White Teeth Teens,” she sings, “I’ll let you in something big: I am not a white teeth teen / I tried to join but never did.” Over a ’60s girl group thump, Lorde details the joys of pearly white veneers. She mentions “dreams of clean teeth” on “400 Lux,” a banging standout about slumming in paradise with a significant other. “No more long sleeves and the heating comes on / We’re getting good at this,” she says with love. Lorde highlights imperfection throughout on her album but she does so in a positive light, making the most of every situation.
Lorde has her Explosions in the Sky ambiance moment on “A World Alone,” taking on the naysayers. She rises above the mudslinging, singing, “Let ’em talk cause we’re dancing in this world alone, world alone, we’re alone.” With “Still Sane,” an eerie mid-tempo pop track, she grapples with her new found fame but rises to the challenge: “I’m little but I’m coming for the crown.”
“Pure Heroine” is a short but sweet set that highlights Lorde’s ability to serve up serious tunes with dreamy lyricism and bright production. While giving the ears something pleasing to hear, she still drills in her witty commentary on the current state of pop music. Lorde is a rebel with a cause and a refreshing self-awareness of flaws on this promising debut album.
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