After a long, dark winter, Lorde is back. The first single off her highly anticipated sophomore album, Melodrama, “Green Light” takes the powerhouse songwriting that solidified Lorde’s status as a modern pop diva into sonically new directions.
The quick, pulsing beats are familiar to the pop genre, but foreign to the singer, who came closest to a dance song with “Tennis Court.” It seems one DJ’s trash is Jack Antonoff’s treasure. Antonoff, who is credited as both a writer and producer, brings a dark dance-pop sound similar to “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” his last production credit. Both songs live in a dreamy, smoke filled club. “Green Light,” however, employs more of the bursting choruses and hand-clapping sounds of Antonoff’s “We Are Young” days.
Lorde’s moody, mysterious lyrics are still the crux of her power. The song refuses to be pinned down, building a mystery deeper that its titular, Gatsby-esque green light. At once, she paints a starkly real portrait of modern womanhood, opening the track with the line: “I do my makeup in somebody else’s car,” and spins a beautiful web of half-finished metaphors, bleeding talk of great white sharks (her teeth obsession is back in full force on this track) into lost love and dance floor memories. She collages sharp scenes into a tangled plot. Much like “Ribs” or “400 Lux” from Pure Heroine, the song’s melancholy isn’t instantly apparent, only showing itself on the fifth or sixth listen.
Fortunately, Lorde knows we’ve already listened (at least) 100 times. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, all of us who know exactly where we were when someone first showed us “Royals,” during its shot to fame in the summer of 2013. If “Green Light” is any indication of what we can expect from Melodrama, Lorde is growing into her role as the pop diva for the Tumblr generation, refining her sound, harnessing her ineffable voice.