Saturday, August 21, 2021

Lorde gives a piece of her heart to every listener with new album ‘Solar Power’

The time has come - Lorde is back. For those whose lives revolve around the New Zealander’s release schedule, her new album ‘Solar Power’ represents a complete circle in her discography. At just 25-years-old, Lorde has really been through it – her debut ‘Pure Heroine’ brought a teenage angst we all recognise, ‘Melodrama’ a harrowing recollection of heartbreak, and, satisfyingly, ‘Solar Power’ has an air of independence and openness in response to her past self.

For those who heard ‘Royals’ back in high school and not much since, ‘Solar Power’ still packs a punch. The bigger picture sees a likeable character go through the ups and downs of young life and when we arrive at Lorde’s third album, it is a meditation on self-worth, satire, and true freedom.

Our journey starts with ‘The Path’, its Y2K vibes providing a glimpse into what’s to come in the perfect introduction to this new phase. 

We are taken on a voyage of self-discovery and acceptance, “let’s hope the sun will show us the path” rings true to listeners coming out the other side of an all-consuming pandemic. A transition characteristic of the energy brought by this album brings us to title release ‘Solar Power’, engulfing us in a warm, dreamy bubble of release and relief. There is a nostalgia to it harking back to the best bits of the Lorde of the past, yet a strong surge of hopefulness and optimism. It feels safe and familiar, yet we move forward with her.

California’ suggests the first real conflict of the album, between pretty people and a toxic lifestyle. Following the theme of moving on we progress away from feeling suffocated: “cool hands around my neck” and recall a strong relation between scent and memories “every time I smell tequila”. There is also a maturity to the song, recounting that “it’s all just a dream”, implying that real life is sometimes better than what we think is perfect.

Both ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ and ‘Fallen Fruit’ provide reflections on love, showing that being sad is good and a necessary part of healing. Where the former recounts young love, creeping into an existential pondering, the latter is a melodic 60s-70s revival reminiscent of The Mamas & Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Carpenters, allowing for anxiety at the thought of losing a love pre-eminently.  In contrast, ‘Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)’ evokes a country-style, talking directly to her past self, praising her “mystical ambitions” and offering advice: “you’ve got to want them for yourself”. Lorde manages to retain her signature light-heartedness, though, in a spoken segment echoing an airport announcement – its why we love her.  

Slowing down mid-album is courtesy of ‘The Man with the Axe’ and ‘Dominoes’, which feel as though Lorde is admitting to the feeling of being weighed down, despite her willingness to continue on her own, a motif that resonates in ‘Big Star’ too. The finale to this trio again ends a journey with maturity and acceptance, although lingers on emotion and obsession: “’til I die”. Sometimes we must acknowledge those feelings in order to power through.

Leader of a New Regime’ encapsulates escapism we all want, living out our days on an island, New Zealand for Lorde, and a new civilisation. This album truly allows Lorde’s dreams to become our own, we are on this journey together. Furthering this narrative, ‘Mood Ring’ allows for a self-deprecating laugh at spirituality, rolled up into a truly 2000s inspired package. We are faced with the idea that we need something or someone else to tell us how we feel when only we know that. Just another step in achieving independence. This really is a standout moment on ‘Solar Power’.

Oceanic Feeling’ brings the album to a blissful end, summing up ‘Solar Power’ in a fittingly centered meditation. Lorde expresses her comfort of being home, being herself, and at peace. She ends the album with a sense of power over her life and her path, paradoxically leaving us a lasting feeling of closure and a way of moving forward. ‘Solar Power’ is a triumph.


Emmeline Banks


Image: 'Solar Power' Official Album Artwork



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