The Kiwi singer-songwriter with a precocious knack for lyricism gives pop music a refreshingly original sound
LORDE/ PURE HEROINE
'Don't you think it's boring how people talk?'' goes the first line of Tennis Court, the opening number of Lorde's first full-length album, Pure Heroine. For this 16-year-old New Zealander, that line succinctly sums up the essence of her oh-so-universal teenage ennui mixed with a sharply anti-materialistic attitude and minimalist production that defies contemporary pop. She was still pretty much unknown until only a few months ago when, seemingly out of nowhere, her single Royals shot straight to No1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, leaving pop heavyweights like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga (and their fans) scratching their heads wondering who the hell this girl is.
Born Ella Yelich-O'Connor, Lorde has long been a pop star in the making in her native country. She's had a major-label deal since the age of 12, and the years spent on writing songs and working with producers finally resulted in a five-song EP called The Love Club. The EP was well received in both New Zealand and Australia, and set bloggers all over the world in motion to heap praise on the Kiwi teen sensation. With her new full-length effort, Lorde's distinctive artistic voice is even more realised. She, along with her producer Joel Little, whip up a new sound that relies on basic drum patterns, deep bass thump and reverbed synths _ a combination that works wonders for Lorde's beguilingly low register and her deadpan songwriting.
Tennis Court and Royals are two perfect examples of how these elements fit so flawlessly together. ''And we'll never be royals, it don't run in our blood/That kind of lux just ain't for us, we crave a different kind of buzz'', she sings on the latter, cherishing the fact that she's ''never seen a diamond in the flesh'' and her complete disconnect from the debauched lifestyle. With 400 Lux and Ribs she treads more broody territory, and Lorde hits the nail on the head with the line ''We might be hollow, but we're brave''. Team and White Teeth Teens are other standouts that help keep the album's momentum going.
While the former rides on the smooth hip hop beat, the latter shines with the head-bobbing bounce of its percussion.
Even though most songs on Pure Heroine operate on the same musical pattern that consists of layered vocals, intriguing percussion and programmed beats, the album doesn't come across as dull or monotonous. The secret here lies within Lorde's knack for lyricism that goes far beyond her years. She manages to be precocious without resorting to gratuitous profanities, and witty without having to put anyone down, and that's hugely admirable. This may not be a pop masterpiece, but given her talent and her age, it's only a matter of time before she delivers one.
Lomosonic/ Geb Wai
Geb Wai (Keep It) is the first single taken from local alternative rock four-piece Lomosonic's second album, Echo & Silence. Over the tight, drum-driven arrangement, frontman Boy finds solace in the end of a relationship, crooning: "Hands that are waving, signal the new beginning/Even when we're no longer together/I want to you to keep in mind that there's someone who will always love you." It pretty much follows the recipe of successful rock ballads that most Thais love.
The Vamps/ Can We Dance
Are you getting tired of One Direction? If so, here's new baby-faced boy band from the UK for you to adore. Consisting of Bradley Simpson, James McVey, Connor Ball and Tristan Evans, the Vamps were formed almost entirely on the internet _ where they gained recognition from doing covers on YouTube. After supporting artists such as McFly and Selena Gomez, the foursome (who claim that they're not just another pop act because they play their own instruments and write their own songs) strike it big with Can We Dance, the power-pop anthem that stands out with spunky guitar riffs and fun lyrics.
TLC/ Meant to Be
Ahead of the premier of their biopic, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, the most beloved American girl group teases us with Meant to Be, a mid-tempo R&B track co-written by Ne-Yo. Included on the group's upcoming greatest hits compilation 20, the track is the first new single since their compilation, Now and Forever: The Hits, in 2003. "This goes out to forever/Through sunshine or the rainiest weather/And no matter what it will always be us together," T-Boz sings about honouring her friendship with Chilli and the late Left Eye, who died in an accident in 2002.
Dizzee Rascal (featuring will.i.am)/ Something Really Bad
UK rapper Dizzee Rascal has gone decidedly "electronic dance music" with his new single Something Really Bad, taken from his new album The Fifth. Featuring superstar producer will.i.am, the track hinges on the synthy, glossy Europop sound similar to Scream & Shout and most of the Black Eyed Peas' material. It's undeniably catchy, plus the lyrics are right on the button ("Let's get into something really bad/Love me baby, love me, love me bad/I love it when the good girls act so bad,") but haven't we heard something like this too many times before?
Two Door Cinema Club/ Changing of the Seasons
Following their recent second album, Beacon, the Irish indie trio surprises their fans with a new four-track EP, Changing of the Seasons. With a whiff of classic Two Door that's pleasantly flecked with delicious synths, disco beats and a hooky guitar riff, the EP's title track is already proving that they are constantly evolving far beyond expectations. It will be interesting to see which direction these lads go with for their third record. Oh, and by the way, just in case you haven't heard already, TDCC will be playing live in Bangkok next month.