‘Melodrama’ and the Recollection of Heartache

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There is nothing quite so painful as your first heartbreak. Whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in the middle, the first time you find yourself shattering from the inside out at the hands of someone you had given a part of yourself to in the form of love and devotion is truly, deeply world-shaking.

That pain, that fresh, raw pain, often feels like it’ll never end. It’s easy to let yourself make a quiet home inside that hurt, because it really will feel like it’s easier to just keep swimming down, but that pain will — eventually— end.

When I first listened to Melodrama, Lorde’s sophomore album, I found myself recalling a well of heartache that I had made a concentrated effort to forget. The Kiwi songstress had won all of our hearts nearly four years ago with her banger debut, Pure Heroine, but Melodrama…Melodrama is, for lack of a better word or phrase (and believe me, I’ve been fighting myself to find the right words to describe what this album means to me) everything. The more experimental, range-stretching tracks hit just as hard as the bass-heavy poppy songs, and this, paired with the pure, raw beauty of the lyrics and Lorde’s heartbreaking vocals prove that Melodrama is much more than just another summer pop album, and that Lorde is continuing to move herself into a truly inspiring and ethereal space as a young artist.

It all came back to me with every weighted dance beat, every subtle, yet pointed breath between her quavering notes, every lyrical pang to the heart, to the soul.

I remember when “Green Light,” the first single off the album, was released. In the moments leading up to my first listen, my train of thought went something like this: Holy shit Lorde’s releasing new music and ohmygodI’msohappyohmygodohmygodohmyGODYESSSSSSS!!! Needless to say, I was hooked after about four seconds. When I heard her gravelly, powerful alto sing, “Cause honey, I’ll come get my things/ But I can’t let go,” my heart simultaneously sank and soared, reveling in how powerful the simplest phrases became once they danced off of her lips.

Every time I listen to Melodrama, I feel once again the pain that coursed through me when I was 19 and heartbroken (like Lorde was when she wrote the album). I remember every panicked breath, every tear, every angry word I yelled at myself and at the small, insignificant man who thought my young, desperate love wasn’t enough…or maybe it was too much (“You’re a little much for me…”), so he cheated and lied and told me my friends were trying to keep us apart (“When you’ve outgrown a lover, the whole world knows but you”)…and then I left, and the world was brighter but it was different, too (“I’ll find a way to be without you, babe”). It all came back to me with every weighted dance beat, every subtle, yet pointed breath between her quavering notes, every lyrical pang to the heart, to the soul.

The power of her words, her music, and her raw, freshly scarred emotions fly seamlessly throughout Melodrama. While each song is undoubtedly a testament to her own heartbreak, it’s hard not to be struck by the sheer emotional volume with which she intones phrases like, “Every perfect summer’s eating me alive until you’re gone” (“Liability”), “I’ll love you till my breathing stops” (“Writer in the Dark”), or “I care for myself the way I used to care about you” (“Hard Feelings/Loveless”).

The genius of Melodrama is not only in its deeply personal and heart-wrenching lyricisms, but in its outstanding musical composition. Lorde and her production team (including Jack Antonoff, of Bleachers) have taken all the best parts of pop, with clear influences from The 1975 and Lana Del Rey, and mixed it with folk and electro-pop from the 20th century. Tom Petty, Paul Simon, and Joni Mitchell come to mind when songs like “Supercut” and “Writer in the Dark” start streaming through my beaten up Apple headphones.

Melodrama will undoubtedly mean a wealth of different things to each and every person who sits down and listens to it. No heart breaks the same way, right? But the beauty of Lorde’s music is that it ultimately transcends its listeners’ differences. What makes this album — and Lorde — so poignantly special is the simple fact that every person who listens will feel something…something so purely human — the pain of loss, and of growth.

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