In the House of Lorde

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Follow-up to 'Pure Heroine' finds songstress capturing the spirit of being young through nuanced songwriting and pop production du jour.

Lorde/ Melodrama

Hailing from a small town in Auckland, New Zealand, Lorde (née Ella Yelich-O'Connor) is an unlikely pop star for the millennials. Her breakout, Grammy Award-winning debut single Royals, released when she was just 16, catapulted her right into international pop stardom with all sorts of record-breaking prowess. Pure Heroine, the album on which track appears, debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 and became one of the world's best-selling albums of 2014. She would later be praised by late legend David Bowie as "the future of music", no small feat for a young female artist from New Zealand.

After lending her indie-pop flair to the soundtrack for The Hunger Games and Disclosure's sophomore outing, Lorde returns with her long-awaited second studio LP Melodrama, a follow-up to her critically lauded 2013 debut. Co-written and co-produced with Bleachers' Jack Antonoff (Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift), it's more or less a concept album revolving around a house party and all the highs and lows that come with it.

"I do my makeup in somebody else's car/ We order different drinks at the same bars," she begins on heartbreak-themed opener Green Light. Then, as the piano chords quicken, the song morphs into a dancefloor-friendly electropop jam. "'Cause honey I'll come get my things, but I can't let go/ I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it!" Huge and ambitious, it sounds unlike anything we've heard from her thus far.

The brass-punctuated Sober turns Royals on its head with the line "We're King and Queen of the weekend/ Ain't a pill that could touch our rush" while Homemade Dynamite and The Louvre could easily pass for a Taylor Swift track with their sleek modern-pop veneer and the lyrics dedicated to the frenzy of teenage love ("I am your sweetheart psychopathic crush/ Drink up your movements, still I can't get enough").

Liability is a tender piano-driven ballad on which she contemplates on the challenge of finding love and maintaining a relationship while being famous ("They say, 'You're a little much for me/ You're a liability' … So they pull back, make other plans I understand, I'm a liability"). It's the most intimate and vulnerable she's ever been.

Elsewhere, Lorde hops on the trap trend on Hard Feeling/Loveless and channels Lana Del Rey and Kate Bush on the cinematic hip-hop splendor of Sober II (Melodrama) and the somber baroque pop of Writer In The Dark. Supercut calls to mind the propulsive energy of Swedish pop star Robyn while Perfect Places brilliantly concludes the album with the narrative that portrays both the hedonism of a party ("I'm 19 and I'm on fire/ But when we're dancing I'm alright/ It's just another graceless night") and its inescapable comedown ("All the nights spent off our faces/ Trying to find these perfect places/ What the fuck are perfect places anyway?).


Phum Viphurit/ Long Gone

Thailand-born, New Zealand-raised singer-songwriter Phum Viphurit may be known chiefly for his wistful folky guitar music, but on his latest cut, Long Gone, he proves that he's so much more than a one-trick pony. The song, taken from his debut album Manchild, arrives fully formed with looper pedal effects and cymbal rolls. "So tonight we'll dance/ Let's pretend we rule this town/ In tomorrow's dawn, I'll be long gone," he sings, echoing the carpe diem sentiment of Andrew Marvell's metaphysical poem To His Coy Mistress.

Toro y Moi/ Girl Like You

Girl Like You is the first taste of Toro y Moi's forthcoming fifth album Boo Boo, and sees the chillwave pioneer making his foray into bedroom R&B-leaning indie-pop, yet still keeping his innocuous charm largely untampered. "But what's it gonna take for a guy like me to find a girl like you?" he probes, his voice vaguely autotuned. "What I gotta do to find a girl whose loving is more than true?/ Baby, I'm yours now/ Dreaming a connection I can meet you downtown I'll take you where you wanna be tonight." The track also marks Toro y Moi's first new music since he's officially changed his name from Chaz Bundick to Chaz Bear.

Superorganism/ Nobody Cares

There's still so much mystique surrounding Superorganism, the Maine/London collective who made quite an impression on the music blogosphere with their first two singles Something For Your M.I.N.D. and It's All Good. Here, the intrigue continues on new cut Nobody Cares, a super off-kilter glitchtronica jam that sounds as if some analogue video game has gone berserk. "Out we go to the world is scary I don't like/ Broke key, baby, I'm never feeling quite alright/ Nobody cares," goes the spaced-out chorus -- all trippy and wobbly in equal measure.

The Killers/ The Man

Alt-rockers The Killers have officially relocated to a funky town on their new single, The Man. Lifted from their upcoming fifth studio album Wonderful Wonderful, the track comes with disco, glam-rock elements reminiscent of latter-day Arcade Fire. "I got gas in the tank/ I got money in the bank/ I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man," frontman Brandon Flowers boasts, accompanied by life-affirming backup vocals, before having us cringed by the line: "I'm gifted, you see what I mean? USDA certified lean."

Black Kids/ Obligatory Drugs

Just when we were about to give up on the idea of hearing new stuff from Florida indie-pop outfit Black Kids, they've gone and dropped Obligatory Drugs, the first single from their long-awaited sophomore album which is due out next year. Fusing components of jazz, prog-rock and hip-hop, the Tropicália-flirting, dancefloor-friendly offering finds Reggie Youngblood and his crew repeatedly asking if we'd like to join their house party ("Are you in? Or out? In? Or out? Are you in? Of course you're in!" Far from earth-shattering, but fun-galore nevertheless.


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