When Lorde’s Pure Heroine came out in 2013, she was only sixteen years old. Her precocious melodic sophistication and lyrical wisdom became a novelty, adding to her impressiveness.
Four years later, Lorde is no longer a child, but her music is just as brilliant.
“Perfect Places” is the third single off of Lorde’s sophomore album, Melodrama, set to release on June 16. In this piece, Lorde marries sultriness with effervescence. She maintains her cryptic and poetic lyrical integrity while crafting a song that is both relatable and cerebral.
The song begins with the staccato beat of claps and bass drums as Lorde’s vocals enter.
Every night, I live and die/Feel the party to my bones/Watch the wasters blow the speakers/Spill my guts beneath the outdoor light.
Two vocal tracks are layered in octaves giving her voice a minimalistic, spectral air.
“Perfect Places” is both a party jam and an introspective soliloquy in which Lorde finds poignancy in her own participation in and obsession with raucous party culture. “Are you lost enough/ Have another drink, get lost in us” Lorde sings as the beat becomes more complex and the airy echoes of synth chords enter.
The young musician steps out of her velvety alto range as the song explodes into the chorus. Multiple vocal tracks layered on top of one another mimic gang vocals, and the song becomes an anthem of millennial youth culture: flamboyant but abashed, idealistic but cautious.
All of the things we’re taking/‘Cause we are young and we’re ashamed/Send us to perfect places.
While Lorde’s earlier work sounded rich and mysterious, “Perfect Places” is effervescent. It’s versatile. It would fit in as much on a festival stage in front of thousands of people as it would through headphones in the solitude of a dark bedroom.
Speaking of bedrooms, the song quiets back down into into the second verse, “Every night, I live and die/ Meet somebody, take ‘em home/ Let’s kiss and then take off our clothes/ It’s just another graceless night.”
Lorde certainly isn’t beating around the bush here. She’s not trying to euphemize hookup culture or make it seem more poetic than it is, but her blatancy in and of itself is profound. Lorde is a true wordsmith. She knows exactly when embellishing stanzas with beautiful, cryptic lyrics is unnecessary.
The song ends in a shimmering outro in which Lorde asks herself, “What the fuck are perfect places anyway?”
With “Perfect Places” Lorde takes a step further into the mainstream while still leaving one foot firmly planted among her gloriously weird art pop roots.
Perhaps perfect places don’t exist, but Lorde’s uncanny ability to make sloppy parties and lackluster one night stands seem beautiful takes us as close as possible.