Having spent a fair amount of time with Lorde's Pure Heroine album, I'm no longer certain that I am hearing something from the millenial generation, as I am hearing something from the end of the millenials. This may be the voice of a new group altogether, one that understands want, loss, and pain.
In that sense, the album speaks in a voice of retrograde populism that is familiar to anyone growing up in the late 70s and early 80s (We of the generic products. We of the single mothers whose asshole ex-husbands rarely bothered to pay child support. We of the gas crisis. We of the layoff, the corporate buyout and sellout.). I find it interesting that those who grow up with want lean towards a more romantic philosophy (witness Stephen Crane's cruel but funny send up of the working poor's love of melodrama in Maggie, Girl of the Streets), while those that have been comfortable have this ugly tendency towards a dull, mechanical, and hopelessly inhuman realism.
Those with pain have hope. Those without pain, cry, pout, and act petulant.
Maybe we're post-millenial. Maybe its because she's from New Zealand. I haven't been there since the late 80s, so I don't know what the economy is like currently, though the more distinct and explicit class divide familiar in more Northern European culture was definitely present in the general mood of the people that I met at the time.
Whatever is the case, I hear the "fuck what you value" attitude of punk, the despairing, but desperately enduring romance of "Livin' on a Prayer" or Springsteen in Lorde, even if her style is so completely different.
There's a more pure image of and assumption of violence here in her imagery as well, one that is familiar and strangely comforting to me. I love the image of the shirtless boy grinning and laughing after having spit blood in the mirror in the "Royals" video. I've looked in that mirror before.
We mean it, but I promise we aren't mean.
Delicate in every way but one (the swordplay).
God knows we like archaic kinds of fun (the old way).
Chance is the only game I play with, baby,
We let our battles choose us.
--Lorde, "Glory and Gore"