Ella Yelich-O’Connor, also known as Lorde, is a 17 year old singer-songwriter from New Zealand. She first signed to Universal Music at the age of 12 and began writing around age 13 or 14. She put out her first album, Pure Heroine, on September 27, 2013 in New Zealand and September 30 in the United States. Lorde is the primary writer for all her songs, along with her producer Joel Little. Lorde says the album was “inspired by her youth and critiques of mainstream culture.” The indie-pop album reached No. 1 in New Zealand, No. 2 in Australia, and No. 3 in the United States. Lorde has been compared to the famous artist Lana Del Rey as well as the bands Massive Attack and the XX.
“I’m working on an album at the moment and it seems a lot of albums lately don’t feel like a cohesive set of songs that complement each other and mean something as a group. If I can make something which does feel like that, and feels right and true and good, then I will have succeeded.”
– Lorde, 2012
The entire album runs 37 minutes, 8 seconds and has 10 tracks. It does contain some explicit material.
The first track, Tennis Courts, opens with the words, “Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk?” This sets the stage for the album, showing that she is a rebellious teenager. She comes off very confident and tells us that she wants to be The Drama Queen, although there are also moments when she expresses doubt in her future. She doesn’t want to get caught up in the fame and says, ‘I know this doesn’t last forever.’
The second track is called 400 Lux. A very simple, upbeat melody starts before Lorde begins singing about killing time and driving around with nothing to do. She sings as if she has no troubles and hopes it never changes. “You pick me up and take me home again. Head out the window again. We’re hollow like the bottles that we drain. You drape your wrists over the steering wheel, pulses can drive from here. We might be hollow but we’re brave.”
The famous Royals is next. Lorde claims it only took a half an hour to write the lyrics. She tells the story of living in a run-down town but she doesn’t seem to care because it is what she likes. She is the queen of her life and that is all that matters.
Ribs has a looming build-up introduction. At first, the noise is fuzzy but gets clear just before Lorde begins singing. Throughout the track, it sounds like a club mix is playing, as if she is out dancing as she is singing the song. It begins with her partying and spilling drinks and staying out late. She is growing up and is having fun but begins to feel the future coming down on her and is scared of all the responsibilities. This leads her back to her childhood and remembers how fun and easy it was, and wishes she could have the mind of a kid again. She finds out that adulthood is not what it is thought up to be.
Buzzcut Season is about the rude awakening teenagers get about reality. The transition to adulthood is drastic. Society tries to shed teenagers of their childhood by cutting their hair and selling them propaganda about how life should be. Lorde doesn’t want what they are saying and rebels to live how she wants.
Team is about how a group of true friends can make anything appear like gold. She talks about living in a run-down palace but at long as they are together everything becomes glamorized and perfect. “We live in cities you’ll never see on the screens, not very pretty but we sure know how to run things. Living in ruins of the palace of my dreams. And you know, we’re on each other’s teams.”
The name of the next song, Glory and Gore, really sets the mood for the song. It is very creepy and Lorde sings more aggressively than in previous songs. She tells the dirty, dark side of being famous. You really have to fight these days to be on top. It isn’t always pretty, especially when everybody in the world is watching and cheering on, but still Lorde thinks she might like it. “You can try and take us, but we’re the gladiators. Everyone’s a rager, but secretly they’re saviors. Glory and gore go hand in hand. That’s why we’re making headlines. You can try and take us, but victory’s contagious.”
Still Sane is about Lorde’s rise to fame. She is a part of the new minimalist age in music. She says, “I’m little but I’m coming for the crown.” She won’t be held back and will keep fighting until she’s at the top. “I’m not in the swing of things. But what I really mean is, not in the swing of things yet.” She also comically promises to stay normal after fame unlike other stars.
White Teeth Teens tells about the perfect care-free lifestyle for those teens who fit under the title White Teeth Teens. We first think that Lorde is a part of the group. Then she tells us that at one point in her life she wanted to be, but never made it. The main chorus then changes its meaning. It shows that she can let her hair down and still have her own glow in her mouth without being in the elite group.
A World Alone is again about wanting to stay young and party and never grow up. She doesn’t care about anything and would rather stay alone, living crazy than “get still” like an adult. There is chattering in the background and her final words are, “Let them talk.”
I think it is important that the first words of the album are, “Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk” and the last are, “Let them talk.” It proves that she wanted to really connect the songs and tell a complete story. Some people say that Lorde is boring and all her songs are the same. I think that if they went back and really listened to the meaning of each song and truly listened to her story, they would understand. She had a story to tell, and I really enjoyed it. It is a hard story to hear but it is an important one, that life is hard but being yourself and not falling into the crowd can make it a more enjoyable ride.