Once a wonder-kid and now a wonder woman, Lorde reigns on with the release of her new single ‘Green Light’ from her eagerly anticipated new album, Melodrama. Having spent 18 months working on the record with jitter synth king, Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff, this track marks the beginning of “the story of the last 2 wild, fluorescent years of my life” she tweeted last week. A story that if this track is anything to go by rages with a quiet power at every turn and illuminated by the rupture of her synaesthesiac glare.
‘Green Light’ might mark a new story but it’s not a new Lorde. She’s a transformed artist moving through the now technicolour matrix of her life and her heartbreak. Her low purr commands attention over the sparse piano beat that opens the track before transcending amongst synths and pealing guitars supported by a choir of voices that raise hers up even further. Her horizons may be wider, her noise louder, but she’s still recognisable. Who else could write about the incisors of sharks on a break-up track “Well those great whites they have big teeth” and it be a mark of their power as song-writer?
This Yearning for a future reflects her inability to ever fully find closure and echoes the sentiment of the late space alien David Bowie
Nuance bleeds from every line as she conveys intimacy whilst summarising a betrayal of her own “She thinks you love the beach – you’re such a damn liar”. Her voice multiplying into a falsetto chorus that yearns to escape from her own emotions and into a place of empowerment but understanding that this is process “I’m waiting for it/ That green light/ I want it”.
This yearning for a future reflects her inability to ever fully find closure and echoes the sentiment of the late space alien David Bowie, patron saint of weirdos alike, who called Lorde “the future of music”. She hasn’t disappointed here. Admitting that she feels “like the whole time spent writing this record I’ve had [Bowie] in my thoughts, I’ve had him in my heart” in an interview with BBC Radio 1. Even the singles cover, a painting of Lorde lying in bed seems like a ricochet of Bowie’s own Diamond Dogs album cover.
There is a push and pull in Green Light between the present and future but in this oscillation Lorde is opened up to possibility, as she snarls “I hear sounds in my mind/ Brand new sounds in my mind”. The fluctuations in feeling and tone marked by the change in chord between the first verse and chorus show Lorde’s trademark ‘smart-pop’. This may be a song about heartbreak but it’s also more than that, a filo pastry of meaning that becomes more sumptuous the more you dig in.
Lorde is her own protagonist
This track has come under a fair bit of fire, as some see this track as Lorde conceding to what most people think it means to be a pop-star. As if by writing about heartbreak, her lyrics cease to be resonant and intelligent and instead douse themselves in cliché. I couldn’t disagree more. Lorde is her own protagonist. She uses one of the biggest literary symbols of longing – the green light from F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and morphs it from seeking fulfilment from romantic relationships into a symbol of transcendence and agency.
The melancholic Green Light eludes Gatsby and we see that as tragedy. But Lorde is dancing in it, rejoicing in the possibility of finding it but being ok in knowing she hasn’t yet. The green light is not her turn towards some-one else but to herself and that is a triumph. Lorde is making grand strides forward and to that I say, all hail.