Monday, August 30th, 2021

Lorde – Mood Ring

Does anyone have a Jukebox to Living Color Code conversion guide handy?


John Pinto: Why yes, a world locked into bootstrap-mania would call individualist snake oil something like “wellness” and sell it as a cheap balm. But “Mood Ring” sets up this self-apparent argument and then does little else, so one of George Saunders’s go-to bon mots comes to mind: “If you set out to write a poem about two dogs fucking, and you write a poem about two dogs fucking, then you’ve just written a poem about two dogs fucking.”

Crystal Leww: I’m sorry maybe this is a satire and I’m just too stupid to understand it, but this viral Vine of the indie girl introducing us to her kitchen is exactly what this Lorde song sounds like to me. 

Danilo Bortoli: The most common critique of Lorde’s newfound sense of happiness comes from a disingenuous place. Yes, she seems to have joined a Midsommar-like cult. Yes, the world is doomed — or it already has ended — and toxic positivity from millionaires might make you want to bury your head in the sand, read Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible just, like, for fun, or set yourself on fire. Still, “Mood Ring” proves her own out-of-touchness is making the point here. Happiness for Lorde is not only a mental state per se, but also a product of good, old dissociation. But for someone who was once such a brave, universal social commentator, her points on wellness culture all fall flat. Pretty much because I can’t reach her — god, I can’t even relate to her — when her concerns seem so otherworldly in the Year of Disgrace. Too bad.

John S. Quinn-Puerta: Lorde seems to be critical of the media we consume, though the lyrics leave her participation ambiguous enough for doubt. The track is catchy, but not dynamic. Any hope of a crescendo is replaced by a constant volume level with instruments joining individually over time. But while some might find the flanged guitar an intolerable Antonoff adornment, I find it delightful.

Alfred Soto: Deciding whether she’s poking fun at anomie or reveling in it misses the point. To poke fun at sun salutations and transcendental meditations is to acknowledge their potency as signifiers of comfort and, the hell do I know, gestures at stepping beyond the self into more selfness. The clippety-cloppety arrangement recalls ’90s Natalie Imbruglia, and she and Jack Antonoff multi-track her voice for maximum yumminess; she’s been more soporific. Also better. She’s right about one thing: the early ’00s do seem further away than the early ’90s.

Vikram Joseph: “Don’t you think the early 2000s feel so far away?,” our shape-shifting protagonist sings, but for the three minutes and 46 seconds it takes “Mood Ring” to unspool, it feels like we’re right back there. It’s the moment on Solar Power where the influences Lorde touted ring most true and make the most sense — it’s hauntingly, rather gorgeously reminiscent of the frothy urban pop that Nelly Furtado and Natasha Bedingfield, to name a couple, were playing around with in that era. Say what you will about Jack Antonoff, but when the two of them work together they have a remarkable ear for the subtle patterns and embellishments that define genres. The stuttering rhythms, the crisp, flamenco-like patterns of the guitars, and the warm wash effect on the vocals all combine to produce a lovely little period piece, grounded firmly in Lorde’s oeuvre by vocal melodies and affectations that sound unmistakeably her own. Her commentary on wellness could have sounded cheap and snarky, were it not for the sincerity with which she discusses her own anhedonia; I think this is actually a really sharp, aching depiction of trying to navigate the uncertainties around what actually makes you happy and the circumstances that allow it. The stunning backdrop just heightens the internal conflict — when we find those perfect places, what if we still feel numb?

Andrew Karpan: The lone pure bop encrusted deep inside Lorde’s second attempt to make post-pop music, “Mood Ring” has been read as a “satirical” take on wellness culture and the flower power that underlined it, largely because she has said that it is and it’s easy to quote people, but I find the warmth behind her voice sincere with a conviction that can’t be faked to make a point. She pops off some nice jokes, for sure, but the urgency that underlines her pining to “get well from the inside,” fittingly speaks to the sad, sunny yearning of the late summer and the more vivid dreamlike states before waking. What will become of us in the winter, is the unspoken question that I want to know the answer to as well. More upsetting, perhaps, is that Jack Antonoff’s choice to shove in an incredibly slight, glittery ’80s guitar solo actually works, giving the record’s search for fulfillment a melodramatic potency — the exact thing they hire this guy to do.

Aaron Bergstrom: Twenty years ago I was that fake hippie in his dorm room bashing out “Flake” on an acoustic guitar, so I’m not necessarily against someone reinterpreting the Jack Johnson songbook for the Zoomers. I just didn’t want it to be Lorde.

Reader average: [6.4] (5 votes)

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One Response to “Lorde – Mood Ring”

  1. wish we had a “photo attachment” function cuz I just wanna post a pic of my mood ring (although creating that function would be like opening up a portal to hell with the commenters (sorry commenters, love and gratitude to you all))