Critique of Lorde’s upcoming full length record, Melodrama, may never be a solitary experience. The shadow of “Royals” looms large, as does the long, impressive performance on the charts (197 weeks, peak of 3). The point? A sophomore record almost always acts as response to the debut’s call. Whether in theme or sonic progression, a sophomore effort can build upon a rock solid foundation, or take a jackhammer to that same base, creating cracks that may never heal. Creation of such a record can hail from an entirely new world, specifically in the case of a pop star, with new relationships and perhaps, most importantly, new twists on old relationships.
“Liability,” the second single of Lorde’s several months of pre-album promo tackles this concept, Lorde confronting the idea that she, just maybe, is a “little much” for those prior loves, friendships. She sings, “They say, ‘You’re a little much for me, you’re a liability,” while comparing everyday interaction to a newly developed “storm.” And in her early ’20s, she’s seasoned enough to make career comments, again not possible in initial ascent. She sings, “The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy/’Til all of the tricks don’t work anymore/And then they are bored of me.”
The sophomore slump exists for a reason, surely, but the potential for increasingly nuanced, complicated expression, born from the insanity of that debut’s reaction, makes the second record potentially potent ground for pop stars. The Sophomores, a week-long series, is an exploration of that idea.
Taylor Swift, Madonna, *NSYNC, Adele, Beyonce, Amy Winehouse. Enjoy.