What Went Down
There's no getting away from it, Lorde is impossibly young.
Still not quite 17, New Zealander Ella Yelich-O'Connor has shot to fame in vertiginous style, barely famous in her own hometown at the start of the year but now with a Billboard number one single in the bank. That song, Royals, looks like it'll repeat the trick over here – or near enough – and there's more where that came from.
Sometimes a little too much more. Royals seduces with its gently skipping, almost trip-hop rhythm and Lorde's sly vocal, and it's a blend she and producer Joel Little are clearly happy with. Pure Heroine rarely rouses itself from a tasteful mid-pace, each track a drawl over crisp beats and phases of synths straight out of The Knife's drawer.
You'd fear it was a recipe for boredom, but Pure Heroine's a fascinating record. As each listen unfolds, it reveals a deft songwriting talent and a way with a gorgeous hook. Lorde's an old soul – you'd have to be to sound this accomplished some years away from your first drink – and hasn't got time for teen nonsense ("I'm kinda over getting told to throw my hands up in the air," she sings on Team), but there's a youthful brightness to her voice that tempers Adele power with Lykke Li cutesiness.
It's in its final third that Pure Heroine really comes into its own with the ghostly, Lana Del Rey-like loveliness of Still Sane and the delicate a cappella layers of A World Alone. Lorde finishes on a high, and promises to stay there.