I whisper things, the city sings them back to you…
—from “Green Light,” Lorde’s clubbed-up new single
Lorde’s 2013 debut record “Pure Heroine,” with favorite hits like “400 Lux” and “Team”— great pop tunes that like all suburban coming-of-age songs are ultimately about discovering the city—fixed Lorde in my constellation of Urbanist Poet Laureates (and Teenage Poet Laureates!)
My friends and I we’ve cracked the code/
we count our dollars on the train to the party/ and everyone who knows us knows/that we’re fine with this/ we didn’t come from money…
—from “Royals,” Lorde’s 2013 No. 1
I’m digging the new song—the gospel, Peanuts piano lift off, the Bowie/Eno-era synth finale undertow, Lorde’s amazing torch song voice, the arresting minimalist beats in the 2nd verse comedown, and the paradoxically exuberant break up lyrics.
What gets me most is that follow-up jams are typically belabored with a lot of forced energy. Not Lorde’s “Green Light” (also the name of a sexy early Sonic Youth song…they were formidable Teen Poet Laureates too.) This song is pure nitro.
Maybe it’s the video, featuring Lorde dancing along the city sidewalks (spinning drunk on street signs like Gene Kelly), dancing in the downtown club, leaning out the window of her Uber/limo against the city night skyline (like Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger”), and dancing on the roof of the car in an abandoned lot while the driver stands by vaping.
Or maybe it’s just that sublime piano riff.
But I hear sounds in my mind
Brand new sounds in my mind
But honey I’ll be seein’ you ‘ever I go
But honey I’ll be seein’ you down every road
I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it.
And then there’s all this talk about subways on her twitter feed:
Reviews: Lorde Flips Heartbreak into Catharsis (Jon Pareles, Playlist, NYT), Listen to Lorde’s Fiery New Single, “Green Light” (Carrie Battan, The New Yorker), Best New Track, Lorde “Green Light” (Laura Snapes, Pitchfork), Mom’s Back (Bobby Finger, Jezebel), and Lorde Returns with New Song “Green Light,” Announces New Record “Melodrama” (Robin Hilton, All Songs Considered, NPR)