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on September 30, 2013
Two things first: the majority of songs on this album don't come anywhere close to the radio friendliness of "Royals" and this album is most certainly a grower instead of an immediate sugar rush. Best advice--find these songs on YouTube or elsewhere and really listen before you decide whether or not buying the entire album is for you. You will be disappointed if you're expecting 10 songs similar to "Royals", but if you keep an open mind then I think you can really experience something special.

Much has been made of New Zealand's 16 year old Ella Yelich-O'Connor's skyrocket ascension into the top of the charts--but when it comes right down to it--all I'm concerned about is whether she delivers. And I think she does--not in the way I was expecting, but in a way that makes me incredibly excited about her future and solidifies her as more than a one trick pony in my book. Lyrically Ella is both wise beyond her years as well as still a teenager, constantly walking a tricky balance of keen life observations mixed with insecurity and idealism.

This album is extremely cohesive both thematically and musically, relying on minimal electronic pulses and a bass line that that grounds the entire album but never takes the forefront. This enables Ella to basically do whatever she feels like with the melody and use her own voice in layers and loops to become another instrument. Ella stays comfortably in her hypnotic lower register for the most part and paired with the stark and aloof beats makes this album sound different from every mainstream young pop starlet.

But unfortunately, it means a few songs towards the middle all sound similar by lacking either a buildup or any special sound to really differentiate them. The album is essentially front and back loaded though with "Tennis Court", "Royals", "White Teeth Teens", and "A World Alone" being the must have tracks. The middle contains some growers like "Team", but the rest will have you pressing the skip button unless you just so happen to really connect to the lyrics.

That said, Ella's fearlessness in creating an album that is just so out there is commendable and pays off when she gets everything lined up perfectly. The fact that she was discovered when she was 12 by a major label actually makes me appreciate even more just how hard she must have had to fight to write her own songs (which she does) and craft an album that is all her. Her best moments scream volumes of what she's capable of in the future, and I know that I'll be along for the ride.

Ella doesn't sound that similar to any of these artists but I bet if you enjoy artists like Charli XCX, London Grammar, BANKS, Earl Sweatshirt (in attitude), Fiona Apple, Ruby Frost, or even Bipolar Sunshine that you'll at least enjoy the standout tracks here. Think lovechild between Lana Del Rey and Kanye.
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on April 22, 2014
It's nice to know that as time goes by the best may be yet to come.

Lorde steels herself on Pure Heroine against praise or blame on both the opening and final songs on the album. On the first song, she starts out, "Don't you think it's boring how people talk?". On the last song, after repeating the phrase "people are talking" over and over, she closes, with, "Let them talk."

If you liked "Royals" and want to hear some more equally exciting music, do get the album. Every song is as good, if not better. I bought this record because I heard it playing on a public address system, and was first captivated by the opening song's electronic ambiance, plunging synthesizer chords, and cryptic chorus, "Baby be the class clown, I'll be the beauty queen in tears, it's a new art form, showing how little we care, yeah." I thought, wow that is really great, and then was amazed that the next song was just as good, as was the next and the next one, right up to the close. The consistency bowled me over. There's no doubt that co-writer,-producer Joel Little and Lorde had an intense but fun time making it, and they mean it to be an engaging record on every track, from start to finish.

"Royals," which to some extent succeeds, I think, in puncturing a few highly deserving-to-be-deflated popular music trends, may be the most upbeat song on the disc. ("400 Lux has a fabulous rocking beat, but not without a bleak edge to it). This might account for the opinion of other reviewers here that the other songs are weaker. I found many of the other songs stronger in musical terms; but in emotional terms they are relatively serious, moody, introspective. In "Royals," Lorde turns towards popular culture and mocks it; satire is fun, so "Royals" is more engaging than the rest of the songs. These, by turns, are introspective, quirky, melancholy, bittersweet, juvenile, and self-absorbed-- and so, in terms of accessibility, not as listener-friendly. They offer rewards and invite you to go below the surface, though. It's not exactly clear what 400 Lux is about, something to do with going out and driving around in the car, it seems, which is a timeless rock and roll theme. But maybe there's more. I read an interpretation at about a connection in the images with heroin-usage that was fairly convincing and put a few things in the song in perspective. "World Alone" goes from decrying bullying in the internet age to reminding the bullies and us all that "one day we'll all be still."

One complaint I've read in a few reviews is that being a wee teenager Lorde's lyrics are tediously overladen with grousing about getting old. From the evidence in these songs, though, that's a broad topic. The loss may sometimes the hardest at the age she wrote these songs, as she puts into words on the song "Ribs." There is more left behind around that age than we'll ever leave behind again. Most of the mockers are simply old people I think, which proves the point. It's called self-awareness.

Another complaint I've noted is that the songs all sound the same. This gripe, I understand to some extent. There is a similarity in instrumentation and production throughout, which can seem monotonous. However, in musical terms of rhythm, harmony, & melody, and lyric wise, Pure Heroine is an adventure throughout. Plenty of different musical designs are explored and taken on, and some of the results are impressive feats of musical conception and execution. I think it may be they didn't have too much to work with production-wise and made the best of what they had. "Royals" wasn't backed by a lot of money; rather, it went to the top on its own merits. I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do next, now they have a lot more production options.

I think the vocals on this record are some of the greatest ever put on a pop record. I was struck, on my first hearing of "Royals" on the radio that the quality of the vocals was unprecedented. Lorde has a disciplined, agile, and, often quite pretty, voice, the power of which she plays out generally in carefully crafted backgroud parts. Although she sings in a sultry, baby-talking low range most of the time on lead vocals, her voice is stellar from highest to lowest notes. In some songs, if you didn't know all the voices were all Lorde, you'd think that she had assembled the most astoundingly talented backup singers of all time ("Still Sane," for example).

I don't want to be totally all-raving about the Pure Heroine (even though I think this is one of the greatest records ever made). It has some weaknesses. There's a tendency on Pure Heroine to not take the effort to fashion an ending to the songs. Most of them come to an abrupt stop, or sound like they got exhausted and passed out. Happening on one song, this might be a novelty. Happening on about all of the songs, it tends to be a dull signature and conveys a lack of imagination. (She neatly sidesteps this with a beautiful faux-ending on "400 Lux".) Also, the musical stylings, as noted above, are not very broad. Her co-songwriter, I read, moved Lorde along paths he has long admired, those that were pioneered by Prince and maybe another couple of soul crossover artists in the 80's. (The ghost of "Little Red Corvette" lurks here and there.) I really loved that music, so I'm not complaining. I'm hoping that later Lorde will surprise us with something in a totally different sound setting, retaining rhythm, vocals, & melody just as sympathetic and compelling as they are here. The playing though is superb. The album sleeve credits Joel Little, Lorde's co-writer and producer on all instruments. He gives their songs the care they deserve. Bass, drums, percussion, keyboards. It's quite a feat. There is an interplay between the music and the vocals throughout, with the former attentive to the latter, sometimes on percussion especially.

The vocals sound to me like a high point in any time. If pop singing gets any better than this, I'll love to hear it. The melodies she sings can be quite catchy and winning, with a frankness and gentleness that is really moving. She's setting a new standard for what pop singing can attain. At times, it sounds like some of the singing is peaking up to the upper layers of pop vocal arrangement towards symphonic choral work.

There's so much to like about this record if you are into this sort of thing. God bless the child.
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on April 18, 2017
Dream Pop lives on with dark poet Lorde. Lorde's lyrical take on dream pop's hazy clean vocals is simply ethereal and divine! She writes lyrics with a darker mood on such topics as emotions, growing up in New Zealand, and love. The production is clean pop beats are their finest, most beautiful and minimalist. Catchy songs throughout with very personal, progressive, and mature ideas from such a young girl. Lorde sets herself up to be one of the finest songwriters in pop music. I grew to absolutely love this CD.
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on December 9, 2014
I'm not a big fan of mainstream music. I'm more into older artists such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and pretty much anything before 1980s pop came along (except for disco). Lorde is probably the first artist past the 1990s that I can actually call myself a true fan of. Her music has shown much more quality in the writing and actually means something more than drugs, sex, or money. Each song has a deeper meaning and can relate to situations that people (especially the youth) deal with. To be honest, I don't really care for Royals despite it probably being the most well known. My personal favorites are Buzzcut Season and Ribs. Lorde has truly shown her maturity in her song writing ability despite her young age and is clearly (in my opinion and any other "still sane" person) a superior to Miley Cyrus. " Ya ya ya ya I am Lorde!"
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on April 30, 2014
I'm kicking myself right now for waiting so long to get this album. The reason why I didn't is because I wasn't a fan of "Royals", but I heard "Team" not too long ago and I was in love. So I became curious how the rest of her songs were since the album itself is doing so well. I am beyond ecstatic to now own a copy of this album. It is incredible. The remaining songs may be not be "radio friendly" like "Royals" or "Team", but is that such a bad thing? Especially considering the type of trash that is flooding the air waves today. Each song is unique, poetic and genius. I bought the album two days ago and it has been on repeat at work and in my car ever since. I can not get enough of "Pure Heroine". Lorde is definitely an original treasure.
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on February 22, 2014
Pop music generally isn't my genre... Dancin' in da club, put your #$& in the air, we gettin' so drunk tonight, etc. etc. etc. Great for working out or dancing to, but terrible in most other contexts. At least, to me. I love pop for what it IS (a good beat and some catchy, but silly, lyrics), but I don't think anyone would call it thoughtful, interesting music.

This album, though, does feel thought-out. It feels like it has been crafted to create an real experience for the listener. Each song has its own mood and flavor, evoking everything from loneliness and fear of the unknown to youthful defiance. I don't usually buy pop music since I'm sick of the songs within a month, but this one is going to remain in my "Most Played" list for a while.
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on November 15, 2013
I am rather remiss to judge any artist by their age, but ultimately it's difficult to ignore the fact that this album was written by a 17-year old. The music and her voice are rather pleasant to listen to; if you like the first single "Royals" for the artistry you will not be disappointed by the album. A lot of the songs are similar, however

The songwriting is good, but the subject matter is really what makes this 4 instead of 5 stars for me. Personally, I find music the most appealing when its universal, when the lyrics could represent anyone's experiences. But this album feels like a sophisticated teenager's experiences. For example, from Tennis Course: "Don't you think that it's boring how people talk/Making smart with the words again/Well I'm bored...And I am only as young as the minute is..." Maybe I'm missing something, but it's hard to relate to.
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on April 16, 2014
I had first heard the song 'Royals' in passing. I think I was at my brother-in-law's house and he had a playlist going. I didn't really think too much of it at the time, but, then again, it was just playing in the background. Not too long after that, I heard 'Team' on the radio and I started wondering, 'who is singing this? This is pretty catchy!'. I pulled out my phone and used the Shazam app to see who was singing the song, only to find that I was listening to Lorde; the same person who sang 'Royals'. Of course, 'Royals' was everywhere, so it wasn't long before I heard it again and really liked what I heard.

I decided to check out 'Pure Heroine' on Spotify; which I use more or less as a try-it-before-you-by-it app. Before I knew it, I had played that album front to back twice a day for a week straight. I was thinking to myself that the album title was very appropriate. I was ADDICTED to this thing like heroine!

The album was nothing like I expected it to be. Not like a cheesy pop album at all, but an intelligent, young and fresh sound. There's a lot of production going on here, but it is very minimalistic. Very simple musical arrangements, but strong lyrics and a great singer who is much more mature than her years would normally have you believe.

With all of this in mind, I knew I had to own this album. I liked it enough that I wanted to have a physical copy. The only issue is that the extended version, which is the version on Spotify, is only available as a digital download. I had grown to like a lot of the other songs after the last track 'World Alone'. I know that most of these songs came from her EP 'The Love Club', but there were 1 or 2 tracks that I would still be missing if I bought the standard album and 'The Love Club'. I stumbled upon this Japanese import that had the song 'Swingin' Party' which is on the extended version. With that and 'The Love Club' EP, I would have the whole extended version, so I bit the bullet and bought the more expensive import as well as the EP.

I'm very happy to have it. If you are like me and like to have physical copies of your music, It's well worth it to get this copy of the album. Regardless, if you are on the fence about whether to get a copy of this album, (whether the standard release or this import), I would highly recommend you get it. It is not like you would expect...and that is a very good thing! I'm very much looking forward to what comes next from this incredible talent!
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on February 13, 2014
This album grew on me so quickly. Really enjoy her sound and youthfulness. I am 25 years old and when listening to this album, you can hear and feel what its like to be that young yet full of ambition again. I cant explain it in words but thats how it made me feel. Some albums from younger artists just make you go oh they are just a kid, i cant connect to this. Somehow this album makes me connect and live through it as if i were younger my self.

Take that for whatever it means, get this album.

Edit* 5/18/2015
Looking back on this album, its honestly fantastic. A MUST GET.
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VINE VOICEon February 6, 2014
Let me set the stage a bit, so you will understand the place from whence this review is founded. I came up in the musical time of hair bands, punk and electronic sampling. And John Denver. To say my musical tastes are eclectic would be a vast understatement. For the last decade or so, though, there has not been much new out there.

Then, like the rest of the world, I heard Royals, and I thought, "Huh...that's fresh." I listened to the tracks on the album, and decided to buy it. This was on Dec. 30. It's now February 6, and I can honestly tell you I have listened to Pure Heroine every day, multiple times. Every time I listen to it, I hear something different.

I think it's the simplicity that drew me in. Discounting the soaring vocals, the music is pure and very simple. Single chords and a drum beat make up most of the tracks. I didn't realize this, at first, because it sounds rich and full, but as I listened, I realized the "music" was actually the multilayered vocals. It's like A cappella on crack, with a drum beat and a tuning note.

So yeah, Royals...what a great song. Seriously. Speaks to the disenchantment of youth with the gimme more mentality of their elders. The other songs on the album are probably not going to reach out and grab you by the throat like Royals does. But in progressive listens, they sneak into your mind. I told my daughter,(who is 19 and also loves this album, which is a first for us, musically) every song on Pure Heroine is an ear worm.

Some of my favorite lyrics:

Glory and Gore - "We gladiate, but I think we're really fighting ourselves"
400 lux - "I'd like it if you'd stay" and "Where we can talk like there's something to say"
Tennis Court - "We're so happy even when we're smiling out of fear"
Ribs - "We're reeling through the midnight streets and I've never felt more alone..."

And so on...There is a lot to love here.

I wholeheartedly recommend a serious listen if you, like me, long for something beyond the radio happy drivel most music seems to be these days. I have been pimping this album to everyone I come into contact with lately.

This, to me, is a game changer, in the spirit of Nirvana, Guns and Roses, and Alanis Morissette. By this, I mean the music is new, and fresh, and will probably spawn many, many imitators. Lorde seems to have quite a handle on what she wants from this experience, and how she wants her brand to be presented. I can only hope this isn't a one hit wonder album. As with GnR and Alanis, and who knows what Nirvana would have done, it can be hard to maintain the level of angst necessary to generate impactful music when you are suddenly rich and famous. I really hope Lorde continues to be inspired by whatever muse led her to the music she hears and has shared with us.
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