After just under four years of musical absence, singer-songwriter Lorde released her first singles off her upcoming album Melodrama, “Green Light,” on March 2 and “Liability” on March 9. The release date for the album has finally been announced as June 16, but after listening to her latest releases, I would be willing to wait a lifetime if it meant the album would be anything like the two newest tracks.
The New Zealander has matured since her last album, Pure Heroine, and the growth shows in her single, “Liability.” The track is incredibly vulnerable and honest, creating a sort of intimacy between the singer and her fans that previous songs have not been able to do. Lorde addresses the realities of being young and famous and does so in the most humble way.
In an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music, the singer shared what led her to write the song.
“I had this realization that because of my lifestyle and what I do for work, there’s going to be a point with every single person around me where I’m going to be a tax on them in some way,” Lorde said.
Although addressing a specific “he” who she explains hurt her in the opening lines of “Liability,” the singer is really addressing everyone who has been with her throughout her fame: those who have “danc[ed] in [her] storm” — the storm being her new life as a celebrity.
Despite the obvious heartache the singer has endured, there is a brief empowering moment where it is understood that the only person she has to rely on is herself.
“So I guess I’ll go home/into the arms of the girl that I love,” she sings.
In perhaps the most relatable part of the song, Lorde speaks about herself in the third person: “She’s so hard to please/But she’s a forest fire.” Despite its implication of alienation, it’s one of the most comforting lines of the song. There is a certain warmth in knowing the 20-year-old finds contentment in herself, and this serves as a model for those listening. Famous or not, sometimes “you” are the only one you have, and that is okay.
Lorde’s complete honesty and acceptance of her alienation as a celebrity shines through her unusual falsetto.
“I understand I’m a liability … I’m a little much for everyone,” she sings.
Instead of coming across as dejected and isolated, the singer possesses a confidence in her words and a hint of belief in herself, making the track a possible anthem of self-love despite its heavy subject matter.
That being said, the most heart wrenching part of the song closely follows: “The truth is/I am a toy that people enjoy/’Till all of the tricks don’t work anymore/And then they are bored of me.” Again, the singer turns it around and finds hope in herself, singing she’s “better on [her] own.”
The only thing that the song is missing — and it is not necessarily a bad thing — is the dark, sultry tone that Pure Heroine introduced us to. “Liability” does not need this, though. There is something about the simple piano gently playing behind Lorde’s soft voice that pulls the song together. Taking a break from her smoky sound and allowing her vocals to steal the show is exactly what makes this song sound so vulnerable and personal.
Although there’s still a few months left before the album’s release, Lorde has left us with plenty to sit with until then.
Listen to “Liability” here.
Listen to “Green Light” here.
MOVE gives “Liability” 4 out of 5 stars.