October 2, 2013

Test Spins: Lorde, Pure Heroine

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By ARIELLE CRUZ

Meet Ella Yelich-O’Connor, better known as Lorde, best known for her single “Royals” off of her The Love Club EP. If you haven’t heard the song yet, you may be living under a rock. The 16-year-old singer from New Zealand may be young, but she has some of the most mature lyrics out there on her new album Pure Heroine.

It’s hard to believe that Lorde was signed to Universal at 12 and wrote the majority of this album about a year ago when she was just 15. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t write about what the other “young stars” (I guess only the Disney Kids are a good age comparison here) write about. Not once does Lorde dedicate a track to a crush, boyfriend or the bedroom. Instead she chooses to talk about aging, friendship, love and reality in a way that is refreshingly real. Rather than boasting about money or fame or buying things, Lorde creates beauty out of the day to day. Though Lorde may (now) be considered a “pop star,” she could never be confused with the likes of Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha. In “Royals” she boasts a different kind of outlook on life, “But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece. / Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash. We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.” In “Teams” she talks, though not specifically, about her home city of Auckland, describing how “[she] would never see it on screen.” She describes being 16 in songs like “White Teeth Teens,” a song about the cool kids in school, the way that I felt when I was 16 — wanting to join the “White Teeth Teens” for a while,  but never doing it; not loving doing nothing. The fact that she talks about getting old in “Ribs” and “laughing till [her] ribs get sore, but that will never be enough,” is pleasantly simplistic.

Lorde’s feminist point of view on songwriting has actually gotten her into a bit of trouble lately. In a recent interview, the singer commented on Selena Gomez’ “Come and Get It,” remarking, “I love pop music on a sonic level. But I’m a feminist and the theme of her song is, ‘When you’re ready come and get it from me.’ I’m sick of women being portrayed this way.” She has since apologized for the statement, but it was nice to hear someone say it. Amid the Miley Cyrus VMA, Bangerz hype, its good to hear an artist showing she is mature without flaunting her sexual organs.

There are a lot of artists who write about being a “kid” and growing up, but many of them are far too old to give an honest perspective, or end up writing about youth in stereotypes. Pure Heroine mostly steers clear of the normal topics. Still, if all of her “ambitions” and urgings to “let [the haters] talk” pan out, she may not be able to live in her Auckland bubble for much longer.

Then again, maybe it’s the minimalistic music she sings over that makes her tracks so addicting. I’ve listened to this album countless times now, and though most of the songs are three to four and a half minutes long, they all seem to end too soon. Now, Lorde is on tour with only a keyboardist and a drummer, and somehow the songs sound just like the album.

So, yes, the album is worth a listen. It would be a shame if the only song people heard from this this talented young artist was “Royals.” It’s a good song, and worthy of the ad-nauseum radio play, but so are the albums’ other nine tracks.

Arielle Cruz is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at arts-and-entertainment-editor@cornellsun.com.