I was 16 years old when Lorde, who is just seven months older than I am, released her first album, Pure Heroine, a spare, synth-pop ode to the highs and lows of life as a suburban teen. Of all the songs that played on repeat at the ice cream shop “in a torn-up town” where I worked in high school, “Royals” was the only one I never got sick of.
Lorde aged with me, releasing Melodrama 11 days after my 20th birthday. This was a concept album, more ambitious and expansive than her first, framed around a night of partying in the wake of heartbreak. They say that adolescents experience emotions more intensely than adults; Lorde leans into the melodrama, swinging from euphoria on “Green Light” to a theatrical sort of woe for “Liability.” I leaned into the melodrama, too. I remember listening to the album late at night as I rode the subway home from a different ice cream scooping job, the one I had in college. I would stare at my reflection in the darkened train car window and sense the freedom and the terror of being alone in a big city. Something in Lorde’s voice told me she had sensed it, too.
Lorde knows that her diehard fans are getting hungry for new music. In May, she sent an email to fans telling them that she was working “something of the highest quality” and encouraging them to savor the wait. “I can tell you, this new thing, it’s got its own colours now,” she wrote. And last month, she hinted on her Instagram story that she might release music in 2021, telling her followers that if they voted, “Next year I’ll give you something in return.”
This year, I turned 23 in isolation, in a city whose subways no longer ran late at night, where sirens replaced the booming baselines of the parties Melodrama describes, crowded parties now relegated to my nightmares. Some musicians have fashioned albums out of the quiet days of quarantine, like Charli XCX with her anti-party how i’m feeling now and Fiona Apple with the introspective Fetch the Bolt Cutters. But I trust that Lorde, who turns 24 on November 7, will capture, unlike anyone else, that petty sense of losing the world I was just coming to know with adult eyes. And so I hope for new Lorde music, no matter when it may be released, to accompany and sustain me as I continue growing up in this strange reality. —Abigail Weinberg