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POP | Album Review

Lorde, ‘Pure Heroine’

“Royals” is a funny song to be ruling the Top Singles chart on iTunes, which it has been for the past week. Among hits by Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga, “Royals” basically lifts a middle finger to the self-empowerment and excesses those songs celebrate. The chorus goes: “And we’ll never be royals/ It don’t run in our blood/ That kind of luxe just ain’t for us/ We crave a different kind of buzz.” That’s a revolutionary statement for Top 40 pop music, and it’s the breakthrough moment for Ella Yelich-O’Connor, a 16-year-old artist from New Zealand who’s riding an enormous amount of hype under the name Lorde. “Pure Heroine” is Lorde’s hugely anticipated debut, and it’s a complex and stirring account of youth and its trappings. Yelich-O’Connor is, first and foremost, an astute songwriter, a keen observer of desolation and relationships. She cloaks her songs in a minimal strain of electro-pop and R&B, stark backdrops that recall the production aesthetic of the Weeknd and Jessie Ware. This is the rare debut that’s smart and disarming and instantly catchy. (Out Tuesday) JAMES REED