Album Review: Lorde - 'Solar Power'

Every four years, Lorde takes to social media to announce that she is back with new music, and it’s almost as if she never left at all. Following the sophomore success that the New Zealand native experienced with 'Melodrama' in 2017, it makes sense that Lorde felt ready to take a step back from the limelight. This resulted in the creation of 'Solar Power', a celebration of the natural world and being a little bit feral sometimes. Gemma Cockrell provides her thoughts on Lorde’s sensational return.

The title track of the record, which was released as the lead single, encapsulates the album’s concept perfectly. The music video sees Lorde dressed in a vibrant yellow outfit, looking like the personification of the sun itself, dancing on a secret beach in New Zealand – the location of which she refuses to reveal to anyone, in order to preserve the natural world that she values so dearly. The album was crafted in its entirety in her home country, as she returned to her roots and took step away from the insane whirlwind that is social media.

"...the majority of Solar Power sounds like it came straight out of the early 2000s"

Throughout the album, there are odd moments where Lorde questions whether her newfound distant and domestic approach to life is really fulfilling her, or whether on the contrary it is negatively harming her. Stoned At The Nail Salon sees her wondering whether her absence from the digital world means that she is being left behind, diving into the insecurities that can arise from disconnection. Ultimately, she realises that this is exactly what she needs following the Melodrama era, admitting that “It’s time to cool it down, wherever that leads”.

On California, she reflects on the period of intense fame that she experienced whilst spending time in America, acknowledging that the glamorous existence that living in the States provides simply isn’t possible without simultaneously having “poison arrows aimed directly at [her] head” due to harsh scrutiny of the media who watch your every move like a hawk. Again, she comes to the eventual realisation that she doesn’t miss or crave this lifestyle at all anymore, saying “Don't want that California lovе”. Lorde portrays it as a dream that she is desperate to wake up from.

Once she confirms that she is indeed satisfied with her new way of life, being “feral” seems to rise as a concept that is at the core of Solar Power. Lorde used the term when she first announced the album: “There’s someone I want you to meet … She’s sexy, playful, feral, and free.” Again, when speaking about the album’s cover, she described it as “a little bit feral.” These references sent the term “feral girl summer” viral on social media, becoming the updated, 2021 version of “hot girl summer”.

Whilst the energy of the album is very relevant to the time of the album’s release, as lockdown restrictions have lifted and everyone is feeling a little bit feral, the majority of Solar Power sounds like it came straight out of the early 2000s. Mood Ring references this period of time directly, as Lorde questions “Don’t you think the early 2000s seem so far away?”. It turns out that in the last four years, Lorde has discovered organic guitars. However, despite the nostalgic, jangly, Natasha Bedingfield-esque sounds, she keeps things relevant to current times with satirical yet empathetic lyrics about the methods that people use to feel spiritually connected to the modern world.

Solar Power definitely isn’t as explosive, nor as attention-grabbing, as Melodrama was. Some moments on Solar Power are slightly underwhelming and anticlimactic musically; there are no larger-than-life, euphoric moments like Green Light or Supercut, and gone are the synths and electronic sounds that defined her previous record. However, the key to Lorde’s maintained relevance may be the fact that she has never succumbed to making the same record twice, and three albums into her career, Solar Power is entirely unlike anything she has ever released before. If anything, Solar Power is the polar opposite to Melodrama. But that isn’t a bad thing at all.

Written by: Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Elliot Fox

In article images courtesy of Lorde via Facebook. Video courtesy of Lorde via YouTube.