Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Revisiting Lorde’s ‘Pure Heroine’ a decade on

Exploring the impact of Lorde’s debut album 10 years later
Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” album cover.

The 2013 album “Pure Heroine” by Lorde is a masterpiece of bildungsroman listlessness.  It weaves an intricate tapestry of post-internet adolescence, using the rich — yet delicate — yarns of suburban tedium and coquettish teenage politics.

Lorde explores what it means to grow up in the age of instant access and information overload, and how one might manage to carve a unique and meaningful place for themselves in a materialistic world plagued by rampant consumerism. She accomplished exactly that with this album and established a lasting imprint for herself in our rapidly changing cultural landscape — one that has withstood for a decade now.

Lorde wrote “Pure Heroine” at 15, in the throes of teen angst herself. This perspective allowed her the ability to enrapture the tender psyches of those unsettled by and disillusioned with their own coming-of-age; those who wish to return to the carefree days of their childhoods, and those who yearn for the supposed steadiness of adulthood.

The universal themes she develops throughout, set against a minimalist-inspired electropop sound, accompanied by artful lyricism that repeatedly tugs on the aching heartstrings of youth guarantee an album which will stand the test of time.

My first exposure to Lorde was listening to “Ribs” on a September morning before school in fourth grade. It had been pushed to my dad as the iTunes single of the week, and he played it for me as I ate breakfast at the kitchen island in my childhood home.

Even at the tender age of 10, unable to comprehend the depths of adolescent angst in the lyrics, I was struck by the haunting melody and confessional tone. Since then, “Ribs” has come to mean much more to me, representing the trials of teenagerdom, the impossible longing for lost youth and the desperation of clinging to childhood friendships.

“Pure Heroine” has earned its place alongside films like Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” in a new canon of Gen Z coming-of-age media. Teenagers of the last decade have grown up with Lorde’s commiserating voice in their ears, finding solace and companionship in the bored suburban landscape she built with this album.

Along with many timeless themes, Lorde addresses the contemporary issues that come with growing up in the epoch of sprawling suburban developments and constant connection à la the internet. In “400 Lux,” an underrated gem on the album, she sings about wasting time with a lover in a hometown, the familiar monotony of their surroundings making their love feel vibrant. In “A World Alone,” the lyric, “Maybe the internet raised us or maybe people are jerks,” strikes a chord with anyone now handling the ramifications of being part of a generation molded by unchecked access to social media.

The breakout hit from the album, “Royals,” tackles materialism and consumer culture, in which a disaffected Lorde takes a cynical, sarcastic approach to a world obsessed with luxury and status symbols, asserting that she and her friends “crave a different kind of buzz.” The song was one of the only off the album to be picked up by radio at the time of release, which fast-tracked Lorde’s career trajectory and made her a household name before the release of her sophomore album.

All in all, “Pure Heroine” was a watershed moment for indie pop, defining the sound of the genre for the decade and influencing new artists to this day. Lorde managed to beautifully and accurately capture both the gritty and surreal parts of growing up in today’s world and in doing so helped a generation come to terms with the world around them and their own growing up.

Jamie Long can be reached at [email protected].

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