At 16 years old, most people were drudging through high school trying to get to the next day with the least amount of effort possible. Waking up and going to school was a major accomplishment. Actually paying attention was a miracle.
But 16-year-old New Zealander Ella Yelich-O’Connor, also known by her stage name Lorde, has accomplished a lot more than the average teen. She reigns number one on the Billboard Alternative charts with her hit single “Royals.” She has just released her first full length album, “Pure Heroine.”
Yelich-O’Connor is something to behold among young artists. She combines smoky Lana del Rey-esque vocals, antithetical pop lyrics and The xx-like (an English indie pop band) soundscapes with a hip-hop edge to create an entirely new brand of irreverent pop.
“Pure Heroine” opens with “Tennis Court,” an upbeat track that speaks about the struggle of teenage life, relationships and growing up — themes that are completely overdone and cliche. However, Lorde manages to delve deeper into the subjects than most songs. She sings, “We’re so happy, even when we’re smiling out of fear” and confronts stereotypes with, “Baby be the class clown, I’ll be the beauty queen in tears.”
Lorde continues the teen love theme on the album’s second track, “400 Lux,” and again blows away any other teen artist’s lyrics, crooning, “We might be hollow, but we’re brave.” On “Still Sane,” “Glory and Gore,” “Ribs” and “A World Alone,” Lorde takes the fear of growing up head on with lines like, “I’ve never felt so alone / It feels so scary getting old.”
The third track off of “Pure Heroine” is Lorde’s wildly successful single, “Royals.” Along with the sixth track “Team,” these songs present the album’s overarching critique of modern pop music and its portrayal of the opulent non-stop party culture.
On “Royals,” Lorde sings, “But every song is like gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom,” followed by, “We don’t care / we aren’t caught up in your love affair.” On “Team,” she proclaims, “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air,” a direct dig at many club anthems.
Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” is a breath of fresh air in a music industry clogged with loud, drug induced hits. She shows that it’s possible for a young female artist to be successful without going the molly-popping, wrecking-ball riding way of Miley Cyrus and that sometimes it’s OK to turn down instead of getting “turnt” up.