Pure Heroine: kiddy pop with substance

Alim Kheraj

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Having just knocked Miley Cyrus off the top of the US singles charts last week, Lorde’s success is easily the music breakout story of the year. But while she has seemingly emerged from nowhere, the 16-year-old singer-songwriter from New Zealand has been working towards this moment since first taking up music at the tender age of 12.

Her EP, The Love Club, encapsulated the kind of youthful rebellion you’d expect, alongside a compelling maturity that continues to develop on her debut album, Pure Heroine.

There’s no EDM in sight or songs about ‘the club’, as Lorde offers up a cohesive collection of songs that reveal an astute observer and affecting song-writer.

The opener, ‘Tennis Court’, mocks country club fakery, with lyrics like ‘We’re so happy even when we’re smiling out fear’ encapsulating the WASP-y middle-class rot. Meanwhile, in ‘Ribs’, a slice of Robyn-esque melancholic pop, Lorde takes on a more weighty subject, lamenting life’s inevitable mortality.

The production gives her lyrics space to be heard and digested. Avoiding the over-produced, sonically chaotic production favoured today, her multi-layered vocals sit atop sparse hip-hop beats and soft, moody synths. The result is a dark and mature record that leaves you feeling as if you have consumed a body of work rather than three singles and some filler.

With Pure Heroine, Lorde reveals a formidable talent that far outstrips her years. What’s more, her unprecedented success is a testament to the young pop audience’s hunger for substance, as well as Miley’s twerk-happy frivolity.

Alim Kheraj is currently interning at spiked.

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