I remember exactly where I was when Lorde released “Green Light,” the first single off of her sophomore album, "Melodrama." In the common of my on-campus residence, I sat with my legs crossed and my eyes shut. “Green Light” was blasting through my ears, and I couldn’t contain my excitement. After years, here she was — in my ears, singing her bloody heart out! Since that first listen, the song continues to grow closer to my heart, and her sophomore album follows the same tune.

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Lorde's stellar return

What surprises me most, even to this day, is how each song is so incredibly versatile but so innately specific. Even though the pain she laments over, during “Writer in the Dark” track is her own, and the party she attends in “Homemade Dynamite” is in a house I have never been to, I feel each thread of hurt and each gulp of liquor as if I were there. This is her amazing skill, writing both within the moment and above it.

“Writer in the Dark,” for me, is the most impressive song on the album.

Surprisingly minimalist, with just a piano and a few violins, Lorde unravels herself as we writers do—over and over, with sadness and truth. I can almost imagine this song playing quietly, in a corner café, when a future boyfriend and I call it quits. It almost validates my writing, it says, "Yes! You can take this pain and turn it into something."

Vulnerability in the 21st century

The most vulnerable, painful song for me would be “Liability.” With its lyrics that highlight at that common new-age feeling of giving people their kicks before you’re kicked to the curb, “Liability” puts salt in the wound of abandonment.

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When you’re only good for a moment, and not a second longer, it stings a little more every time. Her most pivotal lyrics in this song are dispersed across the sadness: in the beginning, “says he made the big mistake of dancing in my storm,” and during the chorus, get you wild, make you leave.” Lorde hits the nail on the head when it comes to how flimsy, how replaceable this generation can sometimes feel.

“Perfect Places,” with all its energy and obvious revelry, is what closes the album, and once again I am transported to my first year of university, where parties were the norm and academics a rarity.

Everything, from the lyrics to the production, just sing of teenage triumph, pain, and drunkenness — how we “spill [our] guts beneath the outdoor light”— how we dance so trouble won’t catch us still — how we medicate, drink and repeat to find that ever-distant perfect place.

One of the album’s standouts, for me at least, would be “The Lourve,” a delectable exploration of the beautiful chaos that comes with a crush. With its gorgeous production, which was created alongside Jack Antonoff and legendary band Muse, this song is one that will be played in elevators, cafés and coming-of-age movies for years to come.

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The real kicker though is the way Lorde sings, quietly — softly, as though she’s letting us all in on a long-kept secret. Whenever this song plays on shuffle, I’m never disappointed, and it’ll start and finish while I smile.

For a long time, that same smile lasted throughout “Green Light,” During what may well have seemed like my millionth listen though, I had finally caught onto the hints of sadness, of endings throughout the song—the angelic melodies during the second refrain and that musical groan that catapults us into the final chorus. While the song dances to the tune of moving on, it also sits in the heartbreak that comes with it, and that is the kind of song for me.

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Final thoughts

If there is any musical body of work that encapsulates that tricky time dubbed emerging adulthood, it is Melodrama. These years are filled with alcohol, with boys and girls and firsts, with lust and crushes and glorious, glorious youth. And when I run down the street to the tune of "Green Light," I will recall her most memorable words of the song — "I'm waiting for it."

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