Lorde’s art has always been centered around few and very specific ideas. The New Zealand singer-songwriter has written anthems for those who (at least) self-identify as the misfits and the dislocated. Pure Heroine, her 2013 debut, seemed like the perfect pop response to an industry which was so self-conscious it couldn’t even stand itself anymore (it still can’t). “Royals” still proves it.
Pure Heroine also proved to be a collection of songs which placed Lorde as the ultimate observer of pop — a wanderer equipped with the songwriting chops able to dissect the world around her like few could. Her approach in the songs was rather passive — people talked (through holograms), were scared of getting old. Hence the best lyric she’s ever penned: “Let them talk” is also the line which closed her debut. There is silence in her desperation. Teenage angst at its finest. Not just that actually. Her music is a whole treaty on melancholia.
Which is fitting to say, also, that God knows melancholia often leads to Melodrama, a title that not just seems perfect for a Lorde album. “Green Light” is the first piece of music we hear from her since her Lynchian take on a Hunger Games movie.
“Green Light” provides a shift of perspective, of course. Whereas Lorde used to portray the role of a master observer — one who sees and judges silently (“Maybe the internet raised us”, she once asserted) — her new view is perplexing. Actually, the role is inverted: gone is the social commentator (for now at least), welcomed is Tracey Thorn and a never heard thumping beat.
In the video, Lorde wanders around the city in search of some unrequited love. Instantly, that could sound a lot not like Lorde — at all. Her production and writing have always been more subtle and not so obvious. By comparison, “Green Light” sounds explosive and contagious — green lights are like that after all, mandatory and universal. But the most important part about it is that Lorde is still handling her signals and symbols. A green light is multifaceted and full of multitudes and interpretations. That might suggest her music is getting bigger not because of unwanted influences (four years after a debut one would expect some changes). Instead, her focus is shifting. Once a mere brilliant and sarcastic (and full of life) observer of the world’s misdeeds, she’s stepping into it. “Green Light” suggests we can’t wait to see what she has to offer now.