All eyes were on Lorde as she debuted five new songs at an intimate showcase in Auckland last night.
The gig, attended by family, friends, industry representatives and media, was an intimate affair, and Lorde played the shy teen throughout, giggling nervously between songs and pausing only long enough to say the night felt "special".
The five new songs, destined for the Auckland's teen's highly anticipated debut album Pure Heroine, were mixed with recent smash singles Royals and Tennis Court, and older tracks like Bravado and The Love Club.
Of the new material, all tracks seemed to match the quality, hook-laden sheen and radio-friendly class of previous releases that have topped charts and earned her international praise - but several, like 400 Lux and A World Alone came with more of a club-friendly vibe than previous releases.
The lyrics to White Teeth Teens - chorus: "We got the glow in our mouths, White teeth teens are out, white teeth teens are up for it" - were projected onto a wall of the venue, suggesting it might be her next single.
Herald critics Lydia Jenkin and Chris Schulz give their opinion on Lorde's new songs:
Lydia: This had quite a mellow, bass-heavy, club vibe, which had a simplicity that worked beautifully with her vocals that ranged from reflective and melancholic, to impassioned. The general lyrical theme seemed to be about the trouble of reconciling the different sides of the world - war zones and disasters ("explosions on TV") vs our lives of safety and ease. "On the news, they try to tell us all that we could lose, but it's so easy in this blue, where everything is good" was my favourite bit.
Chris: This reminded me of Miike Snow's Animal, with its shimmering electro vibe, ravey bass beat and feel-good vocals. It felt more upbeat and even a little trancey - perhaps it's her festival-friendly hands-in-the-air anthem in waiting. As always, it's Lorde's voice at the centre of the song - and she nailed it.
Lydia: This had a slow-building, pulsating intensity that reminded me a bit of The Naked And Famous track The Sun at first, but Lorde's really cool, deep vocals built up to an explosion of, "I've never felt more alone". It tapped into a youthful vulnerability that we haven't really heard from her yet, which was cool.
Chris: A beautifully tender coming-of-age ballad that comes with a footstomping bass thump, ghostly background vocals and Lorde cooing the line, "It feels scary getting old". I wonder what it feels like being 16 going on 36.
White Teeth Teens
Lydia: This looks like it might be the next single and she performed it straight after Royals, which was pretty bold, and it stood up really well. It showed off a slightly smokey, jazz-influenced voice, and a really bouncy, open, drum line, plus some cool, layered, vocoder-ish vocals at the end. It seems the clique-y, contrary nature of being a teenager continues to provide ample lyrical material, but no one does it better than Lorde.
Chris: A stunner and the obvious choice from tonight's new material for a next single. It comes with soaring vocals reminiscent of Kimbra, an off-kilter marching band drum beat and an outro with multi-layered vocals that will send shivers down your spine.
Lydia: This had a booming, hip-hop kind of beat, loads of attitude, and the sort of strong pop hooks that made Royals a hit. Unfortunately I couldn't decipher many vocals in this one, but definitely looking forward to hearing the recorded version.
Chris: This was actually my favourite song of the night - I love the slurred hip-hop beats that Lorde flows over perfectly before unleashing a jagged chorus. You could imagine Juicy J and The Weeknd doing amazing things with a remix. I can't wait to hear the album version.
A World Alone
Lydia: Another one with real club appeal, a strong dance beat, and nicely rhythmic vocals. I can't be sure that I heard this right, but I think there was a line that went "Maybe the internet raised us, or maybe people are jerks". Brilliant.
Chris: It kind of reminded me of Florence and the Machine with its lengthy "ooh-oooh" vocal refrains. It seems like a perfect set closer and I love that she left the stage as a sample saying "people are talking" looped over and over. Are they what.
2. Tennis Court
3. Buzzcut Season
5. Love Club
7. White Teeth Teens
8. 400 Lux
9. A World Alone
Pure Heroine is released on September 29. She performs a free concert at Vector Arena on September 7 through iHeartradio.com.