11 Weeks of Pure Heroine: 400 Lux
Sophia Guerrier, A&L Editor
After the very lengthy analyzation of “Tennis Court” last week we move on to the more subtle, nostalgic second track, “400 Lux”. An ode to the suburban life of teens in which Lorde ultimately establishes the setting for the rest of the album.
A lux is the unit of measurement used for illumination and light. It measures the intensity levels the human eye perceives when light passes through or hits a surface. 400 Lux is the amount of light that sunrises are on a clear day, hence setting the imagery for the song’s concept of Lorde reminiscing on the casualty of hanging out until dawn with, in this song, a person of interest. It’s a vague tale of riding along her town aimlessly with a boy after assumingly a party but still serves as an atmospheric song that reimagines the lives of privileged suburban teenagers with little responsibility.
“400 Lux” is a very short and in a way lazy introduction to Lorde’s love life since there isn’t much detail about the romance but instead more of an emphasis on being young. “We're never done with killing time, Can I kill it with you?, 'Til the veins run red and blue” are sung in a harmless tone to signify Lorde’s urge to live in the moment with the subject she is singing about. As mentioned before, a teenager with seemingly no responsibilities feels like they have all the time in the world to experience being young and free within their respective environment.
Friendships and relationships are one of these experiences that teenagers cherish and tend to want to “kill their time” with; “Til the veins run red and blue” is a metaphor relating to the biological need to pump blood in order to live. Veins are red when blood is pumping through them and when they turn blue it means that there is no life in the body. Lorde is saying whether dead or alive, forever, she wants to spend the simple task of wasting time with this person. Such a deep metaphor for something so simple.
In the verse before the chorus, “You pick me up and take me home again, Head out the window again” we get a bit of insight on the dynamic of Lorde’s relationship. “You pick me up and take me home again” indicates again the amount of leisure time Lorde enjoys as she goes out time and time again. Since she’s the one being picked up, this can hint towards a relationship with a boy that’s older than her; New Zealand driving laws are set to 16 and Lorde was 16 when she wrote this album. If this song is a memory then she may not have been old enough to drive.
“Head out the window again” describes thrill and adventure within their relationship since it is a dangerous action that isn’t done with caution. Lorde then says, “We're hollow like the bottles that we drain” and later says, “We might be hollow but we're brave.” Lorde periodically self-reflects throughout the album and examines the character of the people around her. Hollowness is the characteristic of having empty space within something or being worthless or without significance. Lorde compares the depressed, often hopeless and “empty” emotions of teenagers to that of a bottle, most likely an alcoholic one; which bridges the connection between depression and alcohol.
She acknowledges these emotional negatives but also reiterates the confidence of overcoming these feelings and persevering on as she says, “but we’re brave”.
The chorus continues her appreciation for her youth in the suburbs as she admires the beauty of the repetitive architecture of the neighborhoods in the beginning line, “I love these roads where the houses don’t change.” It was so serious that she had to stop kissing this person to glorify even the tar on the highway that leads to the place where she grew up in. The theme of living in the moment with this person forever is brought up again when she sings, “I’d like it if you stayed.” The “And I like you” between each line stands as a anaphora reassures her lover that she romanticizes them as much as her hometown.
In the mini interlude, “Now we’re wearing long sleeves” symbolizes the change of seasons and the continuation of her relationship from the summer. “I can tell that you’re tired, but you keep the car on, while you’re waiting out front” can be a prelude to the end of this summer love but the car becomes this metaphor of their exciting love and time together that Lorde doesn’t want to end since she keeps inviting this person to spend time with her. “Dreams of clean teeth” is another prelude to the celebrity/perfect fantasy that is later explored towards the end of the album “White Teeth Teens”.
One of the very reminiscent tracks on the album, “400 Lux” is also the only real love story on it as well. It’s very rare for a pop singer to not exude romantic sentiments in their music which sets Lorde as an artist even more. Next week I’m going to be checking out Lorde’s most recognizable hit, “Royals.”