"Perfect Places" is pretty much the perfect capstone to Lorde's conceptual Melodrama.
Chris Thiessen: This is pretty much the perfect capstone to Lorde's conceptual Melodrama. Lorde's melodies, rhythmic delivery, and vocal layering are in peak performance. And that chorus! The production team almost created the illusion of a giant children's choir behind Lorde, bringing this aesthetic of youth desperately seeking for meaning, an escape from the drama and the "graceless nights". [9/10]
Steve Horowitz: That Randy Marsh is such a clever fellow; oops! I mean s/he is unique and special. This new song carries the patina of jaded adolescence. Nothing the matter with this. It's not like Lorde is angling for a separate, private throne. But the passion she is known for seems elusive here. Showing up for a lick or a lyric before dying down from lack of desire. [6/10]
Chris Ingalls: A highly infectious song even if it were just the verses, which match Lorde's sultry voice with sturdy, sparse beats. But when that chorus kicks in, she cranks it up a couple of notches with big keyboards and dramatic arrangements. It's brand new, but it already sounds classic and timeless. [8/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: On the one hand, “Perfect Places” is a good end-of-summer single choice: emotional, both carefree and bittersweet, the epitome of youth. On the other, Lorde has done much more interesting songs before, and while this is a solid, easy-to-process single, it also isn’t fully representative of Lorde’s capabilities. She makes a good argument for the choice with her video, though, a stunning compilation of footage in forests, fields, and water that creates a perfectly lush final product. [7/10]
Mike Schiller: And so we have Lorde, dancing like Michael Stipe, singing like the actually-damaged version of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" persona, fitting more words into a pre-chorus than Selena Gomez has ever fit into an entire song (note: do not fact check this). On the one hand, the pop landscape has caught up with Lorde, as we now have Halseys and Julia Michaelses riding airy altos and expert production to platinum sales, but on the other hand, nobody's caught up to Lorde, because Lorde refuses to round off her jagged edges. "Perfect Places" doesn't quite land the way it feels like it should, as its choruses aren't nearly as easy to sing as maybe they should be, and its profane denouement isn't quite as climactic as it could be, but still -- Lorde remains fascinating and impossible to simply ignore. [7/10]