In a number of other reviews for Lorde’s Pure Heroine, quite a number of words are dedicated to the context of her age. Although it might be the opinion of other writers that it’s a remarkable record for a sixteen year old to co-write and release, generally, it is a remarkable record irrespective of her youth. Lorde might have released a record like Pure Heroine when she was only sixteen but Bob Dylan released The Times are A-Changing when he was only twenty-two and Springsteen released Born to Run when he was only twenty-six. Although Lorde’s debut is not as cinematic or powerful as these two records, the strength of Pure Heroine lays a significant groundwork for Lorde’s future career.
Lorde is bored. She’s bored of social banality and ‘…how people talk’. She seems socially aware; she suggests ‘maybe the internet raised us…’ She thinks ‘we’re as hollow as the bottles we drink.’ The songs on the album suggest Lorde is frustrated at the social conventions that people indulge in such as drinking, even talking, frustration that she does not fit in. In White Teeth Teens she sings that she is not a ‘white teeth teen’. She ‘tried to join but never did.’ Lorde’s songwriting, co-written with produce Joel Little, emphasis how she believes she’s an outsider. This kind of song writing lets all kinds of people empathise with Lorde, not just teenagers. Other themes that Lorde and Joel Little’s lyricism touches on are materialism, such as in the lead single of the album Royals. Royals is a straightforward criticism of materialism and consumerism found in other artists music. Lorde and Little’s lyrics touch on a number of different themes, which are interesting and handled well.
Musically, the production of the album by Joel Little is also one of its greatest strengths. Little’s production is minimalist while maintaining a musical landscape, Little really does make the songs sound small and huge at the same time. Some of the chorus’ on the tracks, such as 400 Lux, are murmured nonchalantly by Lorde, while the chorus on Team huge and uplifting. Both these tracks show the difference in the size of production on the album and Lorde’s vocal range. Although, the production sounds great on the tracks, the songs could do with more variation, more instruments, and different song structure.
A great debut, a closely perfect debut by Lorde is hopefully only the beginning of a great future career. Whether Lorde will continue to achieve mainstream success with her songs or become an underappreciated singer and lyricist like the great PJ Harvey, still remains to be seen. Nevertheless, Pure Heroine is a magnificent debut and possibly the best album of 2013.
By Tom Willis