Lorde – “Green Light” Track Review
“I’m kind of over being told to throw my hands up in the air”; a lot, it would seem, has changed in the four years since Pure Heroine’s release. Sure, Lorde is hardly endorsing the tub-thumping numb skullery of Swedish House Mafia, but “Green Light” does find the Kiwi overjoyed, carefree and absolutely owning the “light up dancefloor”.
The icy cool, the cynicism and the stately grandeur of her groundbreaking debut have all been jettisoned. Having delivered a bravura and fully formed LP, Lorde could have reaped her reward and reigned as queen now that everyone dances to her somber beat. Instead, Lorde has decided to vacate her own sonic homeland. Let it be known: “Green Light” is no po-faced, self serious stab at pop prestige.
Lorde may live in the moment, but she’s no longer using her intellect to transcend or distain it. Instead, she’s caught in a head rush, desperate to share a blast of reckless exhilaration and adrenaline with the world.
Back in 2013, when reviewing her debut, I concluded a glowing review with a stark warning:
“Pure Heroine is a perfect artifact; a magnificent snapshot of estranged youth, but a fleeting one. Lorde is a girl of sixteen, she is in a constant state of flux and, tellingly, she has already stepped on her first plane. She can never go back to Pure Heroine, but she will almost certainly have to go back on its every last sentiment. Say hello to hubris my dear Lorde.”
Lorde seems as keenly aware of this fact as anyone and she instantly altered expectations by promising that she’d make us want to dance in a series of pre-release tweets. The new Lorde would, in all likelihood, grab her 16-year-old self by shoulders, give her a good shake and scream: “get over yourself you silly sod”.
Somewhat unbelievably, age suits the prototypical self-serious teenager. Lorde has matured, not by becoming more thoughtful, but by realizing that – shock horror – you don’t actually have everything figured out at age 16.
Rather than demurring and posturing, Lorde twirls, slides and spasms across the dancefloor to the sound of a rave piano and some disembodied synths. Lyrically, she’s dumbing down. The first rhyme is stark and obvious, but it is a mere scene setter: a declaration that this isn’t a time for pained introspection or furrowed brows, but action.
This is easier said than done of course. Lorde might definitively state that she’s “not in love”, but trying to repress the psychoanalysis of old proves impossible – no matter how many different bedrooms she may wake up in. And while Lorde has committed to letting go, she cannot help but self-mythologize (it is her signature shtick after all).
If there is a criticism of this romper stomper of a single, it’s that Lorde sounds homogenous. The dancefloor has consumed her quirks. Her vocal is frighteningly anodyne at times, but that may well be the point. The “Green Light” obliterates identity and erases even the most angst ridden pasts (if only for a moment).
Still, if the single is indistinct, it’s certain not ineffective. Almost every syllable is addictive and the thrillingly girly yelp-along backing vocals are an absolute triumph: a concession to the youth she denied herself on Pure Heroine.
Lorde my be hearing sounds in her mind, but I’d wager that half the world will have “Green Light” rattling around inside their cranium for months (if not the entire year).