Lorde's 'Pure Heroine': What the Critics Are Saying

The 16-year-old singer-songwriter builds "dreamy sonic landscapes" on her debut album.

When "Royals" succeeded Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" at the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Top 100 list, jaded Cyrus fans took to Twitter, blasting the New Zealand-born artist with a flurry of hasty insults. Ella Yelich-O'Connor, known worldwide as Lorde, responded by retweeting her personal favorites and shrugging it off as "one of those weird things that comes along with the Internet." 

In addition to landing a smash hit single at just 16 years old, the singer-songwriter has displayed remarkable maturity within a volatile industry. But it isn't simply charm that separates Lorde from the pack; it's the music she produces.

Lorde's debut album, Pure Heroine, is out Sept. 30. For the cluster of Cyrus devotees stung by the quick success of "Royals," the album's release will almost certainly prompt backlash on Twitter. Pure Heroine includes tracks such as "Tennis Court" and "Team," which are as lyrically impressive as they are catchy. 

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Here's what the critics are saying about Pure Heroine.

Pure Heroine "delivers on the promise of Lorde's Top 10 hit 'Royals,' and then some," Billboard's Jason Lipshutz writes. He goes on to compare the album's "shadowy sonics" to those of established bands like Massive Attack and the XX. "In the center of the heaviness, however, is a 16-year-old with a dynamic voice and an even better pop sensibility." 

Elysa Gardner of USA Today describes the appeal of Lorde's style, citing the "grainy cool of her voice with crisp melodic hooks and lean, electro-savvy arrangements" captured in singles like "Royals" and "Tennis Court." Gardner adds that "the dreamy sonic landscapes she builds … prove inviting destinations."

"Yelich-O'Connor is, first and foremost, an astute songwriter, a keen observer of desolation and relationships," writes The Boston Globe's James Reed. The reviewer describes Lorde's style as a "minimal strain of electro-pop and R&B," making this album a "rare debut that's smart and disarming and instantly catchy."

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It's difficult to escape the fact that Lorde has built these landscapes at such a young age. But as The Guardian's Kitty Empire writes, "She really does not look, or act, or sing, or write, 16." Lorde has been working with Universal "since she was 12 years old," but Empire insists that the artist "remains distinctly individual." 

New York Daily News' Jim Farber jokes about the mature content of Lorde's lyrics, concluding that "Nickelodeon won't be calling with a contract anytime soon." Farber suggests that the musician has found her niche in the industry, writing that Lorde has become "a bizarre new kind of teen idol."  

"Lorde seems to already have her identity more clearly defined and she's more self-assured than [Lana] Del Rey," Melinda Newman of HitFix says. "If Lorde's handlers can tamp down the hype and let her story continue to build, it will be fascinating to see where she goes as she develops her own voice."