Monday, June 19, 2017

I'm someone you maybe might love

"Thought you said you would always be in love / but you're not in love no more" Lorde sings in "Green Light," the first track of her second album Melodrama released last Friday. "it's the first chapter of a story i'm gonna tell you, the story of the last 2 wild, fluorescent years of my life. this is where we begin" she tweeted the night before her first single from the album was released. For a song about trying to get over an ex-lover "Green Light" is surprisingly buoyant, its major key and building crescendos balancing out the pointed anger and betrayal felt over the all small things we fixate on after the end.

The rest of the album is filled with moments of lucidity cutting through lush instrumentals and breathy background vocals. Lorde is hyperaware of how melodramatic her narrative construction is, but that's what makes this album so powerful. What I love about Melodrama is that it's complicated but it's also not: it's about the stories we tell ourselves and other people, memories bubbling to your lips and spilling over, spilling out with laughs and tears on the dance floor of a house party you'll never quite forget.

"it's very different from her first album. more intense and raw, less ethereal" I messaged a friend when I found out the first new Lorde song in three years just dropped. The music video to "Green Light" is overlaid with green cross-processing, muting the reds, magentas, blues, and greens from appearing too bold against the sparkling city lights backdrop. I wasn't sure if I liked this song the first few times I listened to it: it sounded too happy to be properly angry, and I'm a sucker for quiet tragedy. It took me until I started listening to the full album on Saturday to fully appreciate its brightness. The line I whisper things / the city sings them back to you makes me feel a little less lonely, because even if I don't have you to listen to me anymore I feel like I can trust that the echoes of my words will reverberate back me somehow.

I'm acting like I don't see / every ribbon you used to tie yourself to me because it's easier to play pretend, isn't it?

So let's let things come out of the woodwork  
I give you my best side, tell you all my best lies 
See me rolling, showing someone else love  
Hands under your t-shirt 
Know I think you're awesome, right? 

"Homemade Dynamite" is that moment your eyes meet across a crowded room, a sudden and unexpected spark of recognition. That's all it takes for you to decide you've found your reason to stay. You smile for him—a smirk, really—because you like the way you look through his eyes. "Come with me" he says, or maybe he doesn't even have to say it before you find yourself getting up and following him into another room.

It feels important.

It feels wrong too.

You didn't realize how much you wanted to know what destruction tastes like until now. (It tastes like the whiskey shots you weren't going to take because you took cold meds earlier that night but are knocking back now anyway, in case you were wondering.) You light the fuse.

Blowing shit up with homemade d-d-d-dynamite.

I think that in spite of our cynicism, we all want to believe that love is significant in some cosmic way, and that those summer obsessions and memories made in the still heat are worthy of being put up on display, that the wild beating of my heart is proof that we're the greatest / they'll hang us in the Louvre (down the back / but who cares / still the Louvre). "The Louvre" is poetic but sharp, an attempt to justify being a sucker who let you fill her mind and get her heart broken by someone who shouldn't have had that privilege to begin with. 

The opening lines baby really hurt me / crying in the taxi reminded me a little too much of the voicemail I left my best friend not too long ago, the quiet bravado of trying to keep the tears lodged behind the base of my throat when I knew it wasn't my fault but I couldn't help but feel like it was. It didn't work, by the way. The tears I tried to deny started falling by the time the second sentence tumbled out of my mouth, but thankfully there was nothing else left to say because the story is so startlingly simple. "Liability" captures the paradox of simultaneously being too much while somehow still not being enough: 
The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy 
'til all the tricks don't work anymore 
and then they are bored of me

The ending two lines: They're gonna watch me disappear into the sun / You're gonna watch me disappear into the sun reminded me of Medea, one of my favorite characters from classical antiquity. For those of you who aren't familiar with the myth, Medea, a sorceress and former princess of Colchis, falls in love with the Greek hero Jason, sent on a mission to steal the Golden Fleece. She gave up her family and her kingdom to marry Jason, only to watch him leave her for the princess of Corinth instead. The vengeance she exacts aside, the image of Medea flying off into the sun at the end of the play is triumphant if not a little lonely. She never needed him, but that doesn't change the fact that she wanted him and was too much for him in the end. 

So I guess I'll go home into the arms of the girl that I love
the only love I haven't screwed up 

We slow dance in the living room, but all that a stranger would see

is one girl swaying alone, stroking her cheek

Go back and tell it Lorde whispers. I still remember everything / how we’d drift buying groceries / how you’d dance for me.

They've gone home but who am I? The spell is broken, the magic fades, the lights come on. "There’s such a sadness to the lights being on after a party, you know, this whole room has sort of been washed in this dark, and to see the corners of the room again can always be a little bit heartbreaking," Lorde explains in an NPR interview. 

When morning light breaks through your window, you only remember fragments of that momentary heartbreak. Mostly, you try to hang on to the feeling of being on the dance floor, with those strong hands on your waist pulling you closer whispering words you don't remember into your ear, the pulse of the bass vibrating through the very core of your being. 

The stripped vocals and witch-like croak of the high notes in this song make me uneasy, not because I've ever broken a writer's heart but because writers have a way of remembering everything and insist on having the last word; because I'll love you 'til my breathing stops and you should be terrified of that kind of devotion.

In your car the radio up
We keep trying to talk about us
I'm someone you maybe might love
I'll be your quiet afternoon crush
be your violent overnight rush
make you crazy over my touch

When you think back to that night, you think about how you crossed into a place of no return when "400 Lux" was playing in the background. We're never done with killing time / can I kill it with you? was all you dared to ask for right before the space between you disappeared. You almost believed got a lot to not do / let me kill it with you was true then, even when you knew it wasn't. 

You kiss him anyway.

If "400 Lux" is the moment you're driving down the streets where the houses don't change and realize just how desperately you don't want this to end, "Supercut" is the the highlight reel of a string of perfect moments in hindsight, memorized one last time as you're driving away from the city you made your home in the last four years because ours are the moments I play in the dark / we were wild and florescent come back to my heart

Remember this: you're not what you thought you were.

"Perfect Places" takes us back again to the house parties we used to imagine when we were seventeen and innocent, only now we're actually invited and are laughing and drinking with the rest of them. The problem with growing up as an outsider is that you never quite believe it when you make it in. You feel like an imposter, always just a little too sober to completely let go and let loose, and you can't help but see how hard everyone is trying to escape their demons for just one night. Are you lost enough? / Have another drink, get lost in us they say as they hand you another red cup. 

You drink, but you don't forget.

xoxo, vivian

Photos from behind the scenes of Lorde's March 2017 SNL appearance. Listen to "Melodrama" here

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