Written Before Listen
Despite the heavy acclaim and recognition Lorde has, I have yet to listen to an album of hers until now. I know that her previous two albums were critically acclaimed in the pop realm. I listened to the track “Solar Power” came out and needless to say, it was a very catchy pop song but nothing that caught my eye. I know her three biggest hits (“Royals”, “Team” and “Tennis Court”) and all three follow similarly. They’re above average pop songs but nothing that lead me to her work. I should also add that this album is ANOTHER 2021 album released by Jack Antonoff. The 5th Antonoff release I’ve reviewed. Without further ado, let’s get into her third album.
Right off the bat, let’s talk about Jack Antonoff. With every album he’s produced, he’s been the strongest suit. His production skills are still prevalent here as the majority of the instruments are mixed well and don’t overwhelm the mix. Surely he stays in his comfort zone but as an engineer and producer for an album like this, he does well.
Instrumentally, on the other hand, he doesn’t go broad enough. I’ve liked nearly every instrumental palette he has touched this year. I liked the Velvet Underground inspired palette on the Lana album, I loved the heavy use of sitar, clav, and electric piano on the St Vincent album and I liked the folky approach to the Clairo album. This time around, he sticks to his guns. Surely the 808s on “California” and the bongo loop on the outro are unique, but this album is Jack Antonoff trying to do 90s Folk Pop. It just won’t sound great.
Now, here I present to you my biggest complaint. The songwriting that accompanies the music. Philosophically, I stand by the devotion of nature and outer beauty as it turns out some of the better songs on the album. The first three tracks are solid as I thought id be in for another solid Antonoff produced release. How did we go from a well-written song like the title track to a song like “Secrets From A Girl (Who Seen It All)”? Honestly, that verse first sounds like some Olivia Rodrigo song. Also, the outro from Robyn is CRINGE!!!!. “Dominoes” sounds like what Bob Dylan would sound like if he was an Instagram influencer like just imagine that. Another track I would like to talk about negatively is “Mood Ring”. I know that some of these tracks including this one are satirically talking about Instagram influencers but the problem comes in when we talk about the song in full. The flow of the track is completely awful. It also doesn’t help that the track was succeeded by other weak tracks on the album as well. Yeah, honestly, I think Lorde is a good songwriter and has a good focus on her music, but she is taking risks that she can’t reach yet. She reached too high to the solar-powered sun but couldn’t reach it.
I wouldn’t consider Lorde a derivative person, but her music doesn’t get overshadowed by people who do similar music. The influence that most people probably won’t pick up from this album is one that I got throughout this album. That artist is Mac DeMarco. I don’t know why but his very secluded attitude, folky instrumentation, and hippie-like aesthetic could fit right to this album. Of course, people like Taylor Swift come to mind, Alanis Morrisette comes to mind, and maybe to an extent, Beck comes to mind but I wouldn’t consider them influences. They’re just artists that come to mind while listening to the album. When it comes to using influences, she doesn’t create her unique style, she fits into a blur where it makes her music sound a little unclear.
I don’t know if you guys were as disappointed as I was with this album but I was even more disappointed after hearing some great tracks. This album began pretty strong with the first three tracks. I liked the psychedelic venture “The Path” was, I liked how “Solar Power” acted as a single, and “California” was a well-written song with well-done production. “Fallen Fruit” was another highlight with its nice harmonies and a psychedelic frolic attitude to it. My favorite track is probably the outro too. I liked the linear structure to it as well as the bongo loops blemished over it. So yeah, The first half, solid. The second half, pretty bad.
Well, this was disappointing. I don’t know if I’m listening to the wrong Lorde album but I don’t see what makes her so special. Maybe her older works were more artsy and ambitious and this album was more of a focus project, but this is just straightforward folk music.