Thursday, June 6, 2013

Get to Know Lorde: The Love Club & "Tennis Court" Single

I get defensive when it comes to pop music I enjoy. I think a lot of music bloggers do. Just because I predominantly listen to garage rock and music of the type doesn’t mean that I don’t (or can’t) listen to pop music as well. There is no discriminating at Stereo Typing (ironic, I know) and I find myself with the urge to listen to and write about everything from death metal to twee, as long as I truly believe it to be good. Over the past few months, I found myself continually revisiting The Love Club EP by an up-and-coming New Zealand popstress who performs under the name Lorde. The release is not the typical offering I jump all over, but I find it irresistible, in no small part due to the single “Royals”, one of the most infectious tunes I can think of from the past year.

I figured by the time I got around to writing about this release, Lorde would be one of the biggest names in pop, but things are moving along slower than I expected. I use “slower” cautiously as the video for “Royals” moves assuredly towards a million views and she is already a star in her native New Zealand with said song reaching number one. Still, a single as irrefutable as “Royals” could surely reach universal acknowledgement in the way “Paper Planes” had several years ago for M.I.A. But then again, that song didn’t blow up until a year after its release either.

The appeal of the single in question is that it is an anti-pop pop tune with a hard-hitting beat and witty lyrics about how difficult it is to relate to mainstream stars. It's quite a paradox singing about how you can only dream of that lifestyle, which then becomes a means to achieve it. Certainly, we've seen this before in the hip hop community and the influence can be heard in some of the beats as well ("Million Dollar Bills" and "The Love Club"). The tracks that bookend the short release come closer to the chamber pop of Grimes, who already championed the young artist. You’d be tempted to compare her to Charlie XCX but that would be an injustice to Lorde's much more developed vocal talent. Her songwriting also seems a bit more refined in a way similar to fellow New Zealand native Kimbra.

The most glaring shortcoming of the EP is the sappiness of some lyrics, but that could be forgiven once you realize that Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O'Connor, is only 16 years old. The title track, wrapped in luscious layers of synth and vocals samples, addresses high school cliques as she states that she wants out of hers. The chorus of "You get punched for the love club" most likely alludes to the loss of innocence we all experience at that age. Released today, "Tennis Court" follows similar teenage themes with the same snappy approach and alluring structure. If the strength of the new single wasn’t enough to win me over, it is backed by a lovely cover of “Swingin’ Party”, one of my all-time favorites by The Replacements. The new single proves that Lorde is capable of creating clever and thoughtful music far beyond her age. With a full-length coming out in the future on recording giant Universal, it won't be long until everyone in America is singing along to her singles (by then I will probably have taken the hipster route of complaining how I am sick of them). Let’s hope she doesn’t go all Lohan/Bynes/Spears on us when she does hit in the States.

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