Safe spaces are an entity becoming more and more familiar in society. A most recent example would be the overwhelming support for young LGBT+ individuals where social media became their ‘safe space’ and slowly but surely are being able to express themselves offline too. A handful of bases have already been covered – somewhere you’ll find that haven where you can unwind – and to put it even simpler, be you.
One of the best things about a safe space is that they’re eternal and live through an abundance of mediums. You’ve heard it a million times over but music and its ability to narrate and express an individual’s mind state is what makes it most glorious.
When Ella Yelich-O’Connor, or Lorde as you will, marched into the industry back in ‘13 she instantly made herself a staple in music. All our favourite pop stars are fully grown adults and there was a huge gaping void for us teenagers that craved nothing more than having our feelings evoked by someone our own age. Lorde filled the void effortlessly. Fuzzy sentiments of knowing someone’s going through the same overdramatic misfortune as you, knowing that in the end you’re going to survive. Pure Heroine quickly became a safe space for teens not knowing what the fuck they’re going to do once school season came to an end, myself included. What latched me onto the record was the fact it sounded real with no fabrication and no bullshit. Four years on and I still carry it with me, leaving myself dizzy with the utmost nostalgia.
Growing up the same age as Ella has been nothing short of therapeutic; spilling her guts carelessly whilst I sit and applaud in the comfort of my bedroom. We’ve grown together, adapting and altering to others as has done her music.
Let’s set the scene. A freshly brewed and polished Ella jumps into a trusty Uber and sets out on her quest, pulling up outside a suburban home just 15 minutes later. Smoke surrounds the windows, bass loud enough to hear 5 miles away, a slight crack leaving the door unlocked and an already empty beer bottle lounging on the lawn. What’s in store? Is there any point in going to this dig? Wondering won’t help, it’s time to live through it.
Green Light – our first sample of a fluorescent and adulted Lorde. Opening line “I do my makeup in somebody else’s car” tasting as sweet as the first drop of alcohol you digest at the bar. Completely unexpected and leaving your heart thumping; this is the woman you witness shamelessly belting her favourite pop tune down the night streets of New York City. Crescendos reach Everest heights deeming the track timeless from the get go, stating adulthood as anything but relaxing. That’s what this track is all about.
Frankly, not knowing what the fuck you’re doing has become sort of a normal mindstate for a lot of those approaching adulthood, it’s scary and exciting having no clue what’s next and after the break-up Ella dealt with in Green Light even her own future seemed foggy. From this track alone I knew Melodrama was going to guide myself and others through upcoming years with no doubt that we newly-formed adults won’t experience similar events and happenings. That’s the thrilling part about all this.
Cloudy confusion follows Ella in next track Sober; where intro line “midnight, lose my mind” struggles to catch its own breath, working tremendously riding off the back of the chaotic Green Light breakdown we’ve just witnessed. Ella’s energy is drained here, kind of like when just turned 18-year-olds overdo it at pre-drinks, taking it to the limit before the night has even started since being responsible would kill them. Alas, she keeps going and takes on the evening like a trooper. After all, the party’s just has begun.
What comes next is a series of daring interactions that only the intoxicated would partake in. Distant classmates are now your best friends for the night, dancing by the patio, glistening in the dusk and howling about how much you’ve always wanted to be closer to each other, when just the other week you were calling them out to your actual pals about a falling out you guys had three years ago.
The question is then posed; what will we do when we’re sober? – Right now, there’s no answer, because you’re drunk and unconscious to the outside world. At this point you’d maybe remember that you have work tomorrow and for a split second feel the need to act responsible, but then the tipsy reality reintroduces itself – you’re having a killer time so why slow down? Besides, we’re still at the beginning of our journey and who’s to know if the answer will unveil itself when Melodrama reaches its end destination.
Continuing the party, we approach the stage of mischief; acting and feeling rebellious. Homemade Dynamite is when you link up with that person you haven’t spoken to in forever and decide to fuck shit up with, because why the hell not? “Our friends, our drinks, we get inspired / Blowing shit up with homemade dynamite” This is the highest point of the night, nothing that’s about to come next will top this moment. Your partner in crime is someone you’ve only ever had small talk with and slowly throughout the night, you discover the many colours and layers of each other through various acts of anarchy.
Lorde perfectly demonstrates the standard route all parties follow; the shaky beginnings where you pour your first cup and attempt to feel cool once the drinking games commence, all the way to the ambitious middle section where you’ve mingled with the best of the bunch and have now formed your own alliance for the night. Albeit, no night is truly a success without a few tears being shed on the carpet – that’s where Liability sneaks in.
This section is sort of a rarity, the mighty can conquer the night tear-free, whilst others plunge their emotions onto the nearest shoulder. If this party were divided into separate cliques, the Liabilities would be huddled together on the stairs wiping mascara from their eyes whilst passerby’s manoeuvre around them to find the nearest free bedroom. Greeted by a soft piano, before a tender “Baby really hurt me, crying in the taxi” hits us right in the jaw.
“The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy till all of the tricks don’t work anymore, and then they are bored of me.” There are points in life, especially as you mature and bloom, where you feel the relationships you’ve made have a sell by date. A countdown starts ticking from the moment you meet, each countdown for each relationship ranging different times. Perhaps you’ll screw up once, an argument commences and instantly a thousand seconds are deducted from the clock. Equally strange and frightening, though nothing prepares you for the day you cut ties with someone. Half the time it’s not even your own choice to do so. Being constantly cautious of what you say and how you act in order to keep others satisfied, it’s a stressful deal and sometimes bawling your eyes out is the only pathway to eventually moving on.
“You’re all gonna watch me disappear into the sun” – wistful last words we hear from the Liability herself, where Lorde spins the situation around and, instead of being the one that gets left behind, is the one making the departure to save them the effort.
The same essence of regret can be heard throughout Writer in the Dark, where agony is felt between every breath. “Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark,” the heroine belts, “now she’s gonna play and sing and lock you in her heart” as she sends her sweet regards to the daunting ex suggesting he should’ve known what he was getting himself into.
To think the night took a drastic turn would be an understatement; just moments ago we were raising our glasses into the air, saving the world from danger with every sip, now our faces are running and we don’t feel so good anymore. Oh, how fast the evening passes…
A few sombre moments pass as Ella looks up from the bathroom sink and into the mirror, wiping her eyes one last time before making an exit. Desolate feelings are no longer, and the show must go on. Perfect Places is what happens towards the end of the night after overworking your brain from excessive thinking; the drinking and potential drug taking took a spin on you and you’re just about ready for the comedown.
The anthemic chorus hits as we watch Ella ditch the party and hit the sidewalk, with silky synths guiding her down the street just as sunrise hits. Reminiscing the night’s affairs whilst grinning to herself, a whisky Ella bites her lip and murmurs the words “it’s just another graceless night…”
Melodrama concludes itself with its final line “What the fuck are perfect places anyway?” which pretty much sums up the entire record and its theme. One wild house party isn’t going to change the fact you’ll wake up tomorrow rolling your eyes at political newspaper headlines and feel down about the overcast weather outside. If anything, it’ll have you longing for those nights for the rest of your life, just to temporarily feel alright about your surroundings.
This record is about to soar me through my early twenties, directing me in whichever way possible. We’re going to fuck up in more ways than one, laugh about it and then move on – that’s the purpose of these years. Melodrama is my safe space because I know whatever I get up to and whatever I get myself into, I won’t be alone in this.
Knowing that Melodrama’s backstory revolves around a now distant NZ house party makes the whole thing feel way more authentic. At least once throughout our youth, we’ve attended some shitty gathering that was hyped up to be the ‘it’ location of the night. Upon arrival, you’re left hoping someone will rescue you from the terror. But then sometimes there’s that one sacred moment, something that’ll potentially have the party do a complete 180. Whether it’s small talk you’ll remember come tomorrow morning, or the complete stranger you share a smoke and exchange secrets with in the back of the garden. An atrocious event, or a party in this case, can turn magical over moments like this.
That is what Melodrama is. It’s the aftertaste you feel in your mouth as you slouch into the seat of your 6am train back home, missing your stop if you even dare to blink. Melodrama is the friend of a friend that you meet for the first time on a night out, where you kiss and hold each other’s hands because it felt right. Melodrama is innocent and fragile, fiery and fearless. The last man standing, the triumphant of the night.