Lorde’s debut solo album Pure Heroine only grew in popularity after her single “Royals” climbed to the top of the charts. But what draws me back to the album isn't the same thing that makes “Royals” so good.
For me, what makes Pure Heroine so uniquely amazing is its ability to captivate me every single time I listen to the full 56 minutes of the extended version. Songs that are especially powerful for me include “The Love Club,” “400 Lux” and “Swinging Party,” but every track can make me cry if I’m in the right mood.
Lorde bounces between haunting and happy to capture what it’s like being a lucky suburban teen and fearing adulthood. She’s fearful of going from kid to adult in an instant.
“Bravado” is a prime example. It begins harsh, almost unpleasant, like it should be the soundtrack to some dystopian sci-fi movie. But as a choir comes in, the beat picks up and you listen to the lyrics, it’s hard to dislike the song. Full of childish innocence in the face of a bloodthirsty industry and teenage confidence, the song abruptly changes to lyrics that seem nonsensical as they describe the thrill of being lauded.
It's a switch flipped, it's a pill tipped back, it's a moon eclipse
And I can tell you that when the lights come on I'll be ready for this
It's in your bloodstream, a collision of atoms that happens before your eyes
It's a marathon run or a mountain you scaled without thinking of size
After listening obsessively to Pure Heroine for a few years, whenever I listen to it now it seems like every song has a similar background of trancey humming. I’ve come to realize that this sound hypnotizes me because it reminds me of that dream of getting older we all had as kids.
Maybe that’s because the album is simultaneously frightening and pleasant, just like being a teen on the verge of adulthood. Or maybe it’s because it sounds like drunk crying that a synthesizer has manipulated to oblivion. Either way, it captures that feeling perfectly.
Coming to Penn, many of us realize for the first time that youth is fleeting. Real responsibilities replace the fear of worrying about whether or not your parents will find that Poland Springs bottle full of Svedka behind your desk.
This is what draws me to Pure Heroine.
Lorde was at the perfect age to write genuinely about growing older, and she and her producer Joel Little turned that sensation into background rhythms that will never get old. As she repeats over and over again in “Ribs,”
This dream isn’t feeling sweet
We’re reeling through the midnight streets
And I’ve never felt more alone
It feels so scary getting old.