After watching Lorde "disappear into the sun" after her incredible release of Melodrama in 2017, she is finally back with her third studio album, Solar Power. Lorde is one of my favorite musicians ever, one who I look at as someone who has changed my life since the time I started listening to her years ago. Throughout all of her releases, she always knew exactly how to put my feelings into words into such a perfectly eloquent way. 

She is an artist who is very intentional about what she puts out, especially when it comes to music, but also when it comes to posting on social media, public appearances, etc. It is kind of rare to hear anything from her at all for sometimes several years. When she is putting out new music, it feels like it should be a national holiday! In these dreary cold winter months, this album is the sunshine we all need. 

Her 2013 debut album Pure Heroine and her 2017 sophomore album Melodrama are masterpieces and two of my favorite albums ever that have truly changed my life. Both are distinctly different from the other, so it wasn't necessarily surprising that Solar Power was quite different from both of them. Pure Heroine is one of the greatest coming-of-age albums that launched Lorde into one of the most successful artists of this generation. Melodrama is intense, deeply emotional, cinematic and one of the greatest albums ever made. Each song tells a beautifully crafted story that is all connected by the end of each of these records. Solar Power is quite different - it is much more simple and laid-back focusing on where she is currently at in life. I wasn't expecting her to re-create the sound of her past releases because no one can replicate the magic that they have. She is much more mature now, there is a sense of serenity and a greater outlook on life in this music. I do love a lot of songs on Solar Power when looking at them individually, but as a whole I just didn't have the same immediate connection with the entire album like I did with her others. There just isn't the same level of cohesion within the album as a body of work as her previous releases. 

With that being said, some of the songs on Solar Power are absolutely incredible and some of the best she has ever put out. Others are more forgettable in the midst of the rest of her discography. In the process of writing and researching this review, I revisted this release after a couple of months and I have found a new appreciation for some of the songs I skipped over on my first few listens. For the people that expected Melodrama 2.0, or even Pure Heroine 2.0, obviously this new sound may have been jarring at first. For all the mixed reviews it has been getting in the media, I do think most of it is unwarranted. Imagine how boring it would be if artists kept releasing different versions of the same music they already made! I do think Solar Power is an album that is ahead of its time for me though, I just don't think I'm at the stage of life to fully relate to a lot of it. Some of my favorite albums ever are those that I once glossed over upon initial release for that reason.

Just like Melodrama, she primarily collaborated with Jack Antonoff for the production and writing. They are one of my favorite musical duos, the music they have created together over the years has been the soundtrack of my life for so long. I always love hearing everything they release together!

Just like she sings in the album's title track: "It's a new state of mind, are you coming my baby?"

"The Path" is the album's opening track, one of only two songs she has ever written completely on her own. A recurring theme throughout the album is her contemplating her fame, while balancing the life of being a celebrity and a private person. She sings "If you're looking for a savior, well that's not me", which is such a powerful lyric because so many look to her for guidance through her music and even if she may make it seem like she has it all figured out, she really doesn't either. The term "savior" is also a great play on words with her stage name Lorde. She continues, "Because we're all broken and sad, where are the dreams that we had?" Just like in Pure Heroine and Melodrama, she still feels lost and is struggling with growing up. That lyric particularly bridges the gap between Melodrama and Solar Power in such a subtle, yet beautiful, way because we are all still looking for those perfect places! There is also a great line about The Met Gala which she uses as a visual of celebrity culture and her experience in the public eye. "The Path" is the perfect opener for this album and one my favorites by her.

"Solar Power" is the album's title track and the first single released earlier in the summer. Before the chorus she sings; "It's a new state of mind, are you coming my baby?" which set the tone perfectly for what this album and era was about to be. She is throwing her phone in the ocean and disconnecting from the digital world and reconnecting with nature. 

The sounds of nature are sprinkled in throughout the entire album, from cicadas in New Zealand to all of noises of a summer in New York City, when she and Jack opened the doors when recording at Electric Lady Studios. The layers of the production on each song make it such an immersive experience. She is moving on from the past when she sings "forget all of the tears that you've cried, it's over." It's a fun, psychadelic, summer anthem that I absolutely love. She even calls herself a "prettier Jesus" which was so funny and unexpected when I first listened to it! It starts to pick up at the end when the backing vocals from Pheobe Bridgers and Clairo are introduced, who are featured throughout the rest of the album.

Just like in the album's opener, "California" once again details the personal divide she has in her life in the public eye. She starts it off telling the story of winning her first Grammy in 2014 when Carole King presented her with the award for Song of the Year for "Royals". "I stood up, the room exploded and I knew thats it, I'll never be the same. That's when the door swung open and the voice said 'we're glad you came'." After all these years, she doesn't want to be a part of Hollywood anymore and is waking up from the daydream she felt like she was in. She repeatedly sings "it's all just a dream, I gotta wake up". She is now moving back to her home of New Zealand to live a different lifestyle. It reminds me a lot of Joni Mitchell's "California", and all of the music of the 1960s made in Laurel Canyon, which was actually referenced lyrically throughout. I read an article a few months ago ranking every song Jack Antonoff produced, all 212 of them, and they ranked "California" dead last. I thought that was an interesting anecdote to mention but who ever made that list was being a bit dramatic I think, I actually believe it is one of the more memorable songs from this album. 

"Stoned at the Nail Salon" is my absolute favorite song from this album, even though I don't listen to it very often because it makes me cry literally everytime I hear it! It's almost like the "Liability" of Solar Power, if that makes sense. It is beautifully written, there are so many lyrics that are just so relatable in such a specific way and truly heart-wrenching. It's one of the greatest examples of a Lorde and Jack Antonoff collaboration. Throughout this song, she has somewhat of an existental crisis, questioning everything about her life, the future, the past, and everything in between - she dismisses each deeply personal and vulnerable thought with "I don't know, maybe I'm just stoned at the nail salon". Something about that line being repeated kind of lightens the mood in a way by being unintentionally funny. 

Throughout she contemplates if she made the right choices in life, whether she should be enjoying the simple life at home with her dog in New Zealand or be enjoying the typical "popstar" life, while also yearning to have the best of both worlds. One of my favorite lyrics is in the bridge when she sings, "I'd ride and I'd ride on that carousel, round and round forever if I could, but it's time to cool it down, whatever that means," which is referencing a lyric from Joni Mitchell's song "The Circle Game", when she sings "And the seasons, they go round and round, and the painted ponies, they go up and down, we're captive on the carousel of time."

Some of my favorite lyrics from any song by Lorde are in the final verse; "because all the music you loved at sixteen you'll grow out of, and all the times they will change, it'll all come around". That is one of the lyrics about growing older that really hit me and I know exactly what she means. I've loved Lorde's music since I was about sixteen and I know I'll never grow out of that though! The acceptance of growing up is also explored in the lyrics of the bridge when she sings, "all of the beautiful girls, they will fade like the roses", which is just such a stunning metaphor for aging. Another lyric I love that gets me everytime is "Spend all the evenings you can with the people who raised you, because all the times they will change, it'll all come around". 

In a recent interview with the Gaurdian, Lorde talked about the meaning behind this song: "That kind of searching, being unsure that I had chosen the right path and feeling lonely, I don’t see those as permanent or even bad emotions. It’s all part of the thing [life] to feel that trepidation. Maybe it is sad, but I’m very comfortable in the periods of limbo, or times where I feel afraid or vulnerable." 

"Fallen Fruit" instrumentally is one of the best, Jack's guitar solo is one of the highest points of the entire album, in my opinion. It has a lot of 1960's psychadelic influences, with some of my favorite lyrics being "We had no idea the dreams we had were far too big" and "But how can I love when I know I'm going to lose?". The theme of this song is climate change, which based on what she said in a few interviews I think that is supposed to be one of the overriding themes of the entire album, originally marketing it as her "big climate change record". I do see how this album is rooted in nature and the way she used the natural world to find herself again, but the theme of global warming awareness does get lost at points. I of course appreciate the sentiment behind it, but it could have been executed differently. I do see where that theme is tied in with "Fallen Fruit" after I read more about the background of the song, but at other points later in the album, it just doesn't fit. 

For example, toward the end of Solar Power is "Leader of a New Regime", the shortest and my least favorite song from the album. It's pretty much over before it even begins. I do like the line "lust and paranoia reign supreme", but I think that could have worked better in "Fallen Fruit" instead. It's just not really getting the point across in a poignant or interesting way and is at a random point in the tracklist, so it just doesn't really fit. It is songs like these that show the inconsistencies in the album as a whole, making what is supposed to be the theme of the album feel forced at times. 

"Secrets From A Girl (Whose Seen It All)" is a song she says she wrote for the girl she was when she wrote "Ribs" at fifteen years old. In an interview with Spotify Lorde wrote, "I was listening to 'Ribs' and thinking about who I was at that time in my life. I was so apprehensive about what was to come. I took the two chords from that song and reversed them. This is future me talking back and saying... 'it's going to be okay'".

"Ribs" is one of the best songs ever written, in my opinion. There is truly no other song that puts the authentic adolescent and young adult experience into words like that. No other song has ever come close to "Ribs" for me in terms of the connection I have and my relatability towards it. I know so many others have gone through, or are going through, many of the experiences she talks about on this song and have used it as a source of inspiration. I love that this is kind of a message to that fifteen year old girl she was, as well as to everyone currently going through the same emotions assuring that everything will work out the way it's supposed to now that she has more life experience and perspective as a 24 year old woman. 

One of my favorite lyrics is "your dreams and inner visions, all your mystical ambitions, they won't let you down, do your best to trust all of your rays of light". It has a very early 2000s pop sound, which is also very prevalent on "Mood Ring". It is very light, fun and optimistic - it encapsulates everything I wanted Solar Power to be.

In the chorus she sings, "Couldn't wait to turn fifteen, then you blink and it's been ten years, growing up a little at a time, then all at once, everybody wants the best for you, but you gotta want it for yourself, my love," and finishes with "You can take 'em if you want 'em, these are just secrets from a girl who's seen it all."

The middle of Solar Power is kind of more forgettable than the stronger start and finish to the rest of the album. Not bad necessarily, it's just not something I return to often. "The Man With the Axe" is kind of written like a love poem, with a light, melancholy feel to it. I didn't really connect with the story being told or any of the lyrics except for "I thought I was a genius, but now I'm twenty-two," which felt fitting and especially relatable for me since I turned twenty-two just a couple of weeks before the album came out. It also reminds me of a lyric from "Nothing New" by Taylor Swift featuring Pheobe Bridgers, "How can a person know everything at eighteen and nothing at twenty-two?" 

"Dominoes" reminds me of the vibe "Mood Ring" has in the way it is a satire of New Age wellness culture with a Joni Mitchell influence in the sound. I gained a whole new appreciation for this song after hearing it on vinyl for the first time, it features some extra vocals from Jack Antonoff that are a great addition to the song and should have been on the studio version. 

"Big Star" was written for her dog, Pearl, who passed away a couple of years ago when she started writing the album. She wrote this before she knew he was sick and has said many times that Pearl has been a big influence on this album for her. It is about her appreciating a simple life at home and remincing on the time of her life that she detailed on her sophomore album - "all the glamour and the trauma and the f*cking melodrama". "But every perfect summer's gotta say goodnight, now I watch you run through the amber light, I used to love the party, now I'm not alright, drinking in the dark, take me home tonight". 

"Mood Ring" is one of my favorite songs from the album, which is a satire of wellness culture and those that are lost and are trying to numb the struggle of everyday life by finding answers in things like astrology, crystals, meditation, and of course mood rings. It's has such a fun early 2000s pop sound, which is so different for her but worked really well throughout Solar Power. "I can't feel a thing, I keep looking at my mood ring, tell me how I'm feeling, floating away, floating away," she sings in the chorus. 

In an interview with Apple Music she said It, "It’s full satire, inhabiting a person who’s feeling really lost and disconnected in the modern world and is trying to feel well, however she can. I felt like so many people would be able to relate to that. It was funny and gnarly to write. The melodies and the production were a great blend of that early-2000s sound and then that kind of Age of Aquarius energy. They both very much had to be present on this song."

Some of my favorite lyrics from this song are "All the sad girls sing, we'll just keep dancing till the mood rings, tell us how we're feeling". I also love the ending and how it ties it all together in a genuine, non-satirical way "Watch the sun set, look back on my life, I just wanna know will it be alright?" 

"Oceanic Feeling" is Solar Power's closing track, the only other song that she wrote completely on her own. I love the way these very personal and honest songs Lorde wrote on her own, "The Path" and now "Oceanic Feeling", serve as bookends to this album. It feels like a celebration of her home of New Zealand, the beauty of where she is from and her love of her family. The sound of cicadas in a New Zealand summer are ringing throughout the song, as she sings about her father and younger brother, as well as the daughter she hopes to have one day. She sings "Now the cherry-black lipstick's gathering dust in a drawer, I don't need her anymore, because I got this power," which is referencing her iconic signature look when she was a teenager in the Pure Heroine era. "Oceanic Feeling" is about her past and her future, which is so beautiful. 

The album closes with the final verse, "Oh, was enlightenment found? No, but I'm tryin', takin' it one year at a time, oh, oh, can you hear the sound? It's shimmerin' higher, on the beach, I'm buildin' a pyre, I know you'll show me how, I'll know when it's time, to take off my robes and step into the choir". Although she still is trying to figure her life out and find enlightenment, she is still feeling hopeful for her future and for what is to come. She is saying she will know when it is time to move on and is once again going to dissappear into the sun.

In an interview with Apple Music Lorde said, "It sort of connects that first sentiment of “If you’re looking for a saviour, that’s not me” and “One day, maybe I won’t be doing this. Who knows?” My music is so singular. I’m pretty much at the centre of it. I thought that was a really powerful image to leave with: 'One day, I too will depart.'"

Solar Power marks a new era for Lorde's artistry, one that I'm looking forward to her exploring more in the future. Her personal growth is evident in this album and I'm always looking forward to seeing what she releases next - whenever and whatever that may be. 

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Photo Credit: Ophelia Mickkelson, Lorde and Republic Records 


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