Yes, Lorde will return from war
We’ve been starved of her music, but in an email she sent to her fans last night, pop’s most awe-inspiring talent revealed that she’ll be back soon.
It was, quite frankly, rude of Ella Yelich O’Connor (that’s Lorde btw) to drop an album like Melodrama and then disappear for a few years, leaving us, her adoring fans, to try and continue through life as shells of our former selves. That 2017 record was a masterpiece, no doubt about it, but the endless generosity of the modern pop cycle has taught us that we should come to expect a follow-up approximately 12 months after the last record dropped. Elusiveness is a trait seldom seen in the music biz, but Lorde has it in spades.
Which is why, when she popped up out of nowhere last night in an email to her fans, we were suitably shooketh. We haven’t heard from the pop musician since late last year, when she announced that her third album would be delayed after the death of her childhood pet dog Pearl (R.I.P). But as she went into lockdown back home in New Zealand, it seemed like she felt the need to reach out to her followers. “I’ve been missing you,” she said.
The lengthy letter unpacks what she’s been doing back in a locked down NZ, the time that’s passed between Melodrama and now, and what we should expect from that third album we’re all thirsting for.
“...after Melodrama came out I said I wouldn't release another album until my hair was long -- both because hair takes time to grow, and I knew I needed time, and because I knew the next record would require the longest and wildest hair yet,” she wrote. Reader, we are excited to announce that the Lorde mane has returned. The power that it possesses knows no bounds.
Regarding lockdown, she praises New Zealand’s level-headed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s “calm, sensible leadership”, and sends out well wishes to those who may feel let down by their own government’s actions: “I know you may not be afforded that where you live, and I hope you're taking it one day at a time and trying not to feel too destroyed by the news,” she said.
Lorde is clearly aware of our thirst for new music too. “I’ve been looking at some of your notes online, and I can feel the (extremely sweet, EXTREMELY flattering) desperation creeping back into your voices,” she said in the email. “You need it! The thing can’t come soon enough! I understand -- I want nothing more than to feed you treats, pop perfect morsels straight into your little mouths. But as I get older I realise there’s something to be said for the pleasant feeling of waiting for something of quality to become available to you. You could have something of lesser quality much faster, but as the high quality thing comes into fruition, a warm feeling grows inside you.”
What we can take from this lovely letter to her fanbase is that the music is coming. She’s been working on it with Jack Antonoff for the past five months, and they’re continuing to collaborate from their respective lockdown spots on opposite sides of the world. Those first sessions let her know she was ready to start again. “I felt my melodic muscles flexing and strengthening. Jack came over to work in the studio in Auckland, and I went to LA. It flowed. A thing started to take shape.”
Lorde knows we need whatever that “thing” is, and the sight of it is on the horizon. Soon, she’ll be back, and she’s looking forward to seeing us too. She signs off: “When it’s safe, I can’t wait to hug you again.”
Read the email in full below:
Well hello there. I realised the other day it had been a minute since we chatted, and I was missing you. Do you wear your hair long or short now? Did you take your piercings out? You’ll probably be pleased to know my hair is big and long again. I think after Melodrama came out I said I wouldn’t put out another record until my hair was long -- both because hair takes time to grow, and I knew I needed time, and because I knew the next record would require the longest and wildest hair yet. In many cultures and religions throughout history, long hair has been viewed as a source of power and a link to the spiritual world, and I can certainly say that I have never felt more spiritually rich, and in touch with the voices that guide.
(Yes I’m a fucking herb. Sue me!!!)
I hope you and your friends and family are staying safe. It’s a wild time. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that in the past two months.
New Zealand is creeping back to normal. Shops and restaurants are open again. I’ve seen some friends. I feel so grateful for such calm, sensible leadership by our government, now more than ever. I know you may not be afforded that where you live, and I hope you’re taking it one day at a time and trying not to feel too destroyed by the news. I’m thinking of you all the time.
It’s that time of year in New Zealand where it’s cold and clear. The light is bright and stark, with lots of contrasting shadows. The sky is the dark bright blue which signals approaching winter.
The cars are back on the roads, which is a bit of a weird thing. The quiet streets had given me a glimpse at a different city, one where I could hear the sparrows in the huge London plane trees at rush hour. Maybe one day we’ll be back there again. I don’t know.
The first three months of this year started as a blur, and began to sharpen. It was summer, a time of year which is usually so clarifying and special to me, but I was grieving hard for Pearl, carrying it everywhere with me. I found a note in my phone from November which said:
I eat a grief sandwich
I wear a grief coat
I see a grief film.
If you know how it feels to lose someone close, I’m sure that makes sense to you. Everything about you becomes a grief thing! The dreamy warm time of year I normally love so much -- the beaches and the green fields -- it all felt hollow without my boy beside me.
I started going back to the studio again in December, just for something to do, and to my surprise, good things came out. Happy, playful things. I felt my melodic muscles flexing and strengthening. Jack came over to work in the studio in Auckland, and I went to LA. It flowed. A thing started to take shape. And then, of course, the world shut down. We’re still working away -- Jack and I FaceTimed for over an hour this morning going over everything. But it’ll take a while longer.
I’ve been looking at some of your notes online, and I can feel the (extremely sweet, EXTREMELY flattering) desperation creeping back into your voices. You need it! The thing can’t come soon enough! I understand -- I want nothing more than to feed you treats, pop perfect morsels straight into your little mouths. But as I get older I realise there’s something to be said for the pleasant feeling of waiting for something of quality to become available to you. You could have something of lesser quality much faster, but as the high quality thing comes into fruition, a warm feeling grows inside you. Do you know what I mean? I get this feeling when I make bread, or put my seedlings in after the last frost, or even when I wait for a particular package to arrive. Waiting, the thing that felt so pointless and annoying when I was young, is now this kind of delicious activity. In my opinion, the greatest treat I can give you is work that will last ten, twenty, thirty years. And that kind of work takes time. So if you can, I’d like for you to try tuning in to the time spent waiting for something of the highest quality to arrive. Enjoy the sensation as it builds. When the moment comes, our wave will crest super fucking high.
I can tell you, this new thing, it’s got its own colours now. If you know anything about my work, you’ll know what that means.
I knew I needed a break from touring at the end of the last cycle. I was finding the combination of brutal stage fright and having no fixed home and no connection with what I ate or where I lived extremely grim. I needed to make some food, grow some stuff, go to the beach a bunch, finally acknowledge (and kick) my social media addiction. I wasn’t sure if I’d tour again for a long time. And I still don’t know what touring is gonna look like for me, sensitive sweet pea plant that I am. But I know now how excited I am to get back out there. I want to be playing festivals again -- hearing my intro music, watching the band walk onstage. I want to devastate. I want to see a huge line of you outside my hotel. I want to hug you all, and hold your hands. I want to do interviews, talk about the record over and over until I know it inside out. I want to do photoshoots, make videos. I want to eat summer foods in beautiful countries -- ice cream and tomatoes and anchovies. I want to use my gift, and watch it grow. Who knows when it’ll be safe to do those things, but I’m craving them, and I wanted you to know.
One of my favourite things about when we meet is the hug we almost always share. You say, “Can I hug you?” in a wavering voice, and I reach out my arms and hold you close for 10 or 15 seconds. Our hands rest on each others’ backs. In those few seconds I can feel all the love and care you have for my work, all the time you’ve spent listening and watching and decoding. And you can feel how deeply I care about you, how hard I try to make everything perfect so that I meet your hopes where they are.
When it’s safe, I can’t wait to hug you again.
The work is so fucking good, my friend. I am truly jazzed for you to hear it.
Okay, that’s all for now. It’s mid afternoon, and really warm. I’m going to put on my new shirt and walk down to the water. Fish and fennel salad for dinner.
I hope this finds you well.