On August 20, Lorde dropped her long-awaited third studio album, Solar Power. The highly anticipated album follows Pure Heroine and Melodrama, which left her fans anxious for new music.
In the four years since her last release, Melodrama, Lorde fans had high expectations for her next album, and not everyone was pleased with what they heard. Solar Power was a dramatic shift in tone in Lorde’s music, going from her angsty 2013 album Pure Heroine to her new era of eternal sunshine and underlying themes of climate change and positivity.
The cover art of the album showcases Lorde on the beach jumping over the camera. She has received some backlash from this, as she is only wearing a bathing suit and the camera lens is pointing upwards, but the fun and playful aspect of the cover is a perfect reflection of the album as a whole. It is filled with songs that are perfect for a fun day on the beach, which Lorde claims is the perfect way to listen to the album.
Lorde worked on this album with Jack Antonoff. Antonoff has also worked with big names in the past such as Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and Clairo in addition to his own work with Bleachers. Lorde also brought in background vocals from Clairo and Phoebe Bridgers.
I personally went into this album with low expectations. I didn’t particularly fall in love with any of the singles she released the weeks leading up to the release of the album, such as “Solar Power” and “Stoned at the Nail Salon.” These songs fell short to the general public and did not create buzz for the album as they were intended to do so. Her third single for the album, “Mood Ring,” was a fan favorite. Many fans claimed that it should have been the lead single as opposed to the title track. The song provides satirical insight on wellness trends and spirituality, Lorde said in an interview on her Youtube channel before the music video came out. The song is upbeat and fun, a drastic change from her previous single.
Upon my first listen in my college dorm room on my first week there (a parallel to all the times I spent listening to Melodrama my first week of freshman year in high school), I fell in love with the album (not nearly as much as I love Melodrama or Pure Heroine though, top 3 Lorde albums for sure). The album lifted my spirits after a long and exhausting week. In all honesty, it doesn’t deserve the slander it has been receiving on the internet.
The songs that I “claimed” before the album came out were “Stoned at the Nail Salon” and “Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen it All).” “Stoned at the Nail Salon” was higher up in my ranking than I thought it would be after its initial release, probably because it reminded me so much of some of her other slow and sad music. It was a strong song, both lyrically and vocally. It also made me question my entire existence, which is the feeling we all know and love when listening to Lorde. The lyric “Cause all the music you loved at sixteen, you’ll grow out of and all the times they will change, it’ll all come around” was my favorite. This was the line where I began to question everything. I still love all the music I loved at sixteen. I’ve been an avid Lorde listener since middle school. I don’t anticipate that changing. So I hope she was wrong when she said I’d grow out of it. While I didn’t love the song as a single, I did love it within the context of the album. “Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)” was another good one (I picked well!). It was more upbeat, a big contrast to “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” and featured a talking part at the end (kind of cheesy, I know, but it was kind of fun). She says it’s a sequel to her song “Ribs” from Pure Heroine: “I was listening to ‘Ribs’, and just thinking about who I was at that time of life…I took two of the chords from that song and reversed them. This is future me talking back to her sort of saying “It’s going to be okay”’ (Lorde via Spotify).
My personal favorite on the album would have to be between “Big Star,” “Fallen Fruit,” and “California.” Lorde says that “Big Star” is about her dog who has passed, named Pearl. The song is dedicated to how much she loves him and was written before he died. I absolutely LOVED the harmonies and the production in “Fallen Fruit.” The first time I listened to it I wasn’t even listening to the lyrics, to be honest, that’s how good the production was on this song. “California” was easy to pick up the lyrics upon the first listen. It was catchy and had better lyrics than some of the other songs on the album, which is why it was one of my favorites.
Overall, I would give the album a 7/10. I love it, don’t get me wrong. But when comparing it to her other work, it simply isn’t her best. Most of the lyrics fall short of what fans expected and the themes aren’t super deep; however, the songs are super fun and catchy and will instantly put you in a good mood. So while I went into the album with low expectations, I ended up actually liking the album. Well done Lorde!
You can listen to Solar Power on streaming platforms now or buy it on vinyl. You cannot buy it on CD though as Lorde makes an effort to reduce waste from plastic. She instead released a “music box” which contains posters and exclusive photos as well as an access code to listen to the album digitally.