After a long 4 year hiatus, (her last album being melodrama), Lorde drops her album “Solar Power”. It’s strange though, to think that within the almost 10 years Lorde has been in the music scene, this is only her 3rd studio album. Unlike other artists, who crank out a half ass project every year or two, Lorde carefully takes her time, crafting, evolving and shaping her art. It’s this dedication to patience that has allowed her to continuiously grow her sound and allows us listeners, to reap the benefits.
“Solar Power” on first listen could be a little jarring for those who knew Lorde for her signature alt pop sound. But never the less, this album is still a Lorde Album. From the harmonies to the raspy vocals, the lyrics of self reflection, the experimentation and playfulness of sounds within the sonic space. These are all key components that have been a staple in every Lorde album. But this time, they just happen to be wrapped up in a warm blanket of sunshine & euphoria.
In fact, this whole album felt like some spiritual journey. As if I had unknowingly joined a cult, but yet was grateful in the end that I did…and also that we didn’t kill anyone. From the first track to the last we swam in a sea of self discovery. Opening the album with “The Path” I felt was a great choice. It sets the tone for what you’re about to experience for the rest of the journey. Like you just took a sip of Ayahuasca tea and were slowly slipping into a vision. Lorde reflects on celebrity culture, warning us not to look up to celebrities in order to find the answers within our own life. But to turn to the sun, to nature, to find the happiness and answers we’ve been searching for.
“Solar Power” continues this message. Inbedded within an instrumental that feels like was straight out of the 1960’s, Lorde allows us into her world a bit more. We learn how she hates the winter, but when the summer comes…look out world. It’s a playful song, one I can imagine you’d listen to taking a day trip to the beach (Obviously). You can hear the happiness in her voice as she sings about her “cheeks in high-color” & her “boy behind her taking pictures”. It’s these little hints she sprinkles into the song that just oozes a “I’m in a healthy place in life” mentality. Finally the song erupts into an outro where, I can only imagine a bunch of people holding hands in a circle, rocking side to side, while a giant flower grows out of the ground….woah what the fuck is in this tea?
The self reflection continues to weave its thread through the album in “California”. Drifting along with a gentle lead and a chorus that feels like it was ripped straight out of Lana Del Rey’s playbook, Lorde chants with an airy gesture “Don’t want that California love”. I can imagine it must be a lot of a then 16 year old to ascend into sudden stardom. The shit you’d have to deal with & the scrutiny. Lorde lyrically paints a reflection on the celebrity life style & the choice she made to forgo the California vibes for a more laidback, peaceful lifestyle.
“Stoned At The Nail Salon” infused with smooth folk vibes, finds Lorde once again giving us a glimpse into her life. With lines like “Got a wishbone drying on the windowsill in my kitchen. Just incase I wake up and realize I chose wrong.” We get a sense of possible good times coming to an end. I feel the overall message of this song, is that we all change as we grow. It’s that paranoid “What if?” feeling in the back of our minds when we look around and realize things will be different in a few years…Or it could just be the weed. My favorite part of this song though, is the bridge. Just the crash of Lorde’s vocal harmonies as she belts “Make it good”. As if it’s a statement she needs to make in order to calm herself down.
One of my favorite songs on this album is easily “Fallen Fruit”. Once again dealing with nature only this time reflecting on how society has slowly destroyed it. Very heavily influenced sonically by “Because” by the Beatles. Lorde’s harmonies, once again shine through, granting the ugly subject matter a glimpse of beauty. Change, makes an appearance musically within the song. What really caught my attention was the switch from Lorde’s new sound, to the dark 808’s that used to drive Lorde’s previous work, before fusing back into a concoction of old and new as we close out the song.
“Secrets From A Girl (Who’s Seen It All)” finds Lorde imparting some words of wisdom to one’s younger self. What was interesting to me about this song musically is that it felt a little punk. At least at the very beginning within the way she vocally delivered her melodies. I do feel this song was one of the weaker songs on the album. It didn’t quite catch my attention as long as the other songs had.
Again, another one of my not so favorites “The Man With The Axe” paints a love story between Lorde and a mysterious man. Although it feels very intimate, I feel the weakness lies within the simplicity. But that doesn’t mean I don’t hope this love story doesn’t work out in the end. Everyone deserves love…well maybe not everyone. You definitely do.
“Dominoes” feels very raw. I feel like they just set up the microphone in a room and said “Just start recording”. The sirens and ambient sounds in the background give it a very grounded feeling. Like you’re listening to an evening rooftop show in a busy city. Who is this person she is singing about? A past lover? A friend? Either way, again, change works its magic. The best line of the whole song though is “It’s strange to see you smoking Marijuana, you used to do the most cocaine.” I know a few people like that.
Floating gently down a river of melodic guitar strings “Big Star”, strange to say is one of the more low-key songs on the album. While everything up to this point has felt like a high end beauty spa playlist, “Big Star” is more of a melancholy filled ballet of grief and remorse. Who are we mourning Lorde? Our old selves? Our Idea of who we thought we’d be? Join the club…I’m the founding member.
“Leader Of A New Regime” was short and sweet, more like an Interlude. The want to escape and the need to escape from a role that has been played so long. Leader Of A New regime, seeks to find that next IT person. Lorde’s tired…somebody take over so she can go chillax like she’s been singing about for the past 30 minutes. It’s okay though she’ll be back in 4 years to take over again.
“Mood Ring” when it comes down it, is my favorite song on the album. Not to be bias as it happens to be the only single from this album I did a reaction to before the album dropped, thus, sprouting my first idea of what this album would entail. Everything about it is perfect, the acoustic guitar, the adlibs, the gentle vocals, the beat….Every Fucking Thing! This song is also the only song on the album that fully experimented within the sonic space like I’ve known her to do. Panning vocals far left or right to create depth. Depth is important in an album like this. Also sitar…Never can have enough sitar.
Just like how the album opened, “Oceanic Feeling” is the perfect way to close it out. The steady pad in the background and the slow growing drums with a TLC inspired melody feels as though you’re being pulled back into existence. Your high is now over, you’ve learned a lot about life & about yourself. I think it was a great choice to let the instrumental ride out a bit before bringing in a fresh new sound. You can now feel free too, along with Lorde, “Take Off Your Robe” relax and let the waves wash over your newfound spirit.
“Solar Power” overall is a wonderful example of how an artist can grow and evolve musically and personally without losing the quality that made fans fall in love with their work in the first place. The album shows a new mature Lorde, who though at times seems unsure, is completely content with her newfound life.