When Lorde last blasted our speakers, she was discussing her life on the lower rungs of the class totem pole. "Royals" shook up the globe, making the New Zealand singer an international sensation. Then, she disappeared. It's been four years without the starlet and this left us wondering what it would be like when she finally made her return. This week, it came with "Melodrama." She is more in command of her music than ever before, showing just how far vulnerability can take the modern artist.

About 'Melodrama'

"Melodrama" is the second studio album from pop singer Lorde.

The singer served as an executive producer, as did Jack Antonoff. The record was released by Republic Records on June 16, 2017.

The album is a follow-up to 2013's "Pure Heroine," when Lorde really burst onto the scene. That album included "Royals" and other hits such as "Team" and "Tennis Court." She has produced a few hits since the album, but has spent most of the intervening years being a teenager while working on "Melodrama."

Lorde reveals all on sophomore effort

"Green Light" was the first song released from "Melodrama" and appears first on the album. At first, it's a really confusing entry into Lorde's psyche. After all, the song flips from the angst of fame to the glory of the party quickly, changing styles as it goes.

But as it rolls around, it becomes clear that she's just working through the inner trappings of fame at a young age.

The rest of the album has a similar quality. It doesn't feel like inconsistency, though; it feels like vibrancy. Lorde is not sticking to a script -- she's allowing herself to float in the wind and land where the leaves fall.

It's a bold move for someone who could conceivably be finding themselves in college, instead of on the world stage.

The depth on "Melodrama" is remarkable. Lorde allows herself to be so vulnerable. One of the standout songs on the album is "Liability." The song sounds straight out of a "Les Miserables" overture. The subject matter of the song is just very mature as she comes to grips with who she is and who she is becoming.

"Writer in the Dark" is another highlight. "Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark," may be the most memorable lyric on the whole album. This song (along with many others) follows the Kanye West method of pivoting hard between hook and verse. Yet throughout the transitions, Lorde maintains control over the content.

"Melodrama" sounds like it could be a breakup album, despite Lorde's insistence that it isn't. There's a lot of melancholy layers, with optimism only brimming beneath the surface. There are discordant sounds coming from all places, creating a disconsolate experience for a listener. The raspy texture of her voice keeps people coming back for more pain, though. More tenderness, too.

Final thoughts on 'Melodrama'

Following up "Pure Heroine" was always going to be a challenge. It's rare for teenagers to burst onto the music scene, especially ones who are making their music on the other side of the globe. Lorde rose to the occasion.

"Melodrama" is full of solemn notes, but expresses a sense of maturity uncommon among 20-year artists. Lorde understands her bubble, yet seeks to escape it through the metaphor of a night on the town. Her music turns a melancholy monologue into a cathartic conversation, with both herself and her listeners. In the process, the New Zealand star separated herself from a pack of wannabees as a future force in the music industry.

Best Song: "Writer in the Dark" - So stylized, so mature, the type of song Lorde can become known for.

Worst Song: "Liability (Reprise)" - Doesn't have the same essence as the first time around, but it's a reprise, so not too many points need to be deducted from "Melodrama."

Rating: A