By Jake Ebdale
Released September 27th, 2013 - Universal
"I'm only as young as the minute is, full of it...But I know they'll never own me". Independent, self referential, smart for her age, hyped, 16, mysterious: everything you've read and subliminally heard has lead up to this moment: Pure Heroine. This is Lorde's million dollar cheque. Pressing play, it's hard to forget the PR smoke stack that has pre-empted her debut. I'm critical already. I'm not supposed to feel this way before I review an album. Everything seems calculated like a game of media Battleship. Or is that what they want me to think of the supposed "Anti-Miley"? Screw it - I just need to listen.
‘Tennis Court' is a great opener. There is something there, in amongst that MIDI soundscape and constant rhetoric. It's an effective statement, and yeah, it sends shivers down your spine when the chorus hits. I thought the video was great too, a one shot take that portrayed Ella Yelich-O'Connor as an android weirdo akin to a young Bjork. ‘400 Lux' is a continuation of that song, and unassuming - it could fit onto the recentNine Inch Nails record. Her layered voice writhers through these ten songs, all drawling pout, all lazy, seductive murmur. It's hard to not become drawn in and just bathe in the fascination that a young serpentine Kiwi made this music. Yeah, she's had help from Joel Little of Goodnight Nurse and Kids of 88, which I'm muted about - I like to think that Lorde steers the big wheel.
‘Ribs' will be a future single, and of all things, I'm reminded of Strawpeople. For all its success, ‘Royals' is by far the best song here. It still hits. She will have that US #3 spot for the rest of her life, and we won't let the poor girl forget it anytime soon.
I think the music is lovely, and the arrangements creative. It's inoffensive material: nothing new, nothing groundbreaking, but a welcome addition to the Kiwi canon. I have to admit that I'm not a fan of the lyrics, especially after reading O'Connor's recently self penned puff piece. She quoted William S Burroughs, identified with Nicki Minaj of all people, and declared herself "...a singer, a performer, a popstar and a writer." That's great to hear, but you've also got science and maths after lunch. It's a move that she will (hopefully) look back at and regret. I initially thought she was speaking of and chastising others in these songs, but on repeated listens, the lyrics are literally about her. It sometimes reeks of twitter feed set to music, or a bad creative writing paper. Still, I like Pure Heroine.
New Zealanders are treating Lorde's ascension to fame like it's some sort of Olympic sport. She empathises with the lady who wrote ‘Come on a Cone' - we have to accept that Lorde ain't doing it for us. Still, we defend this girl to our wits end because we need a national hero. Idealistically, a waify, attractive teenage hero. Youth is longevity, it's an investment in the music business, and it's the currency that is accepted everywhere. She's got something, and good on her for running like hell with it. Like in the great closer ‘A World Alone', Lorde declares that the people are talkin'. They are. Now for the next move.
3.5 / 5