(Universal Music New Zealand/EMI Records)
Equipped with lovely melodies and a bombast-resistant sound, the New Zealander exchanges the spotlight for a sly reflection on true happiness

Plenty of mainstream pop stars have decided they no longer want to be mainstream pop stars. They’ve tried everything to achieve their goal, from making deliberately unlistenable albums, to – in the memorable case of the late Scott Walker – locking themselves in a monastery on the Isle of Wight.

But few have attempted to bid farewell to mainstream pop stardom as prettily as Lorde does on her third album. It opens with a guitar picking a gentle, woozy-sounding figure. A flute glides beatifically by and Lorde offers a grim depiction of life as a teenager superstar – complete with “nightmares from the camera flash” – before apparently saying goodbye to all that: “alone on a windswept island”, she “won’t take the call if it’s the label or radio”. “If you’re looking for a saviour,” she adds, “that’s not me”, which would sound a little self-aggrandising had the world of online fandom not become so overheated that whenever a female pop star posts anything on social media, the responses are clogged up by stans calling them “mum”, “queen” and “goddess”.

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