As someone who strongly related to Lorde’s previous albums, I held off on listening to “Solar Power” because I didn’t feel like I was in the right time of my life for it. I wanted to love it, so I felt the need to save it. I didn’t want to listen to a super sunshiny album and feel left behind by one of my favorite artist’s newfound happiness. But “Solar Power” is not as sunny as the title makes it sound. It’s another nuanced, growing pains album, but it’s not as full of hurt as the albums that Lorde produced when she was a teenager. It’s less turbulent, but still full of confusion and unfulfilled expectations.
My favorite song on this album is “Stoned at the Nail Salon.” In the chorus, Lorde sings, “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.” Lorde’s music talks about her own experiences, but it also frequently uses “you” to include the listener. Right now, I’m also in the process of growing out of my teenage self, even as I recognize that I’m not yet ready to be a full adult. Everything around me is changing and I’m changing with it, but I still need an adjustment period. It’s classic coming-of-age, which is a genre that all of Lorde’s albums explore.
“Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All)” links itself strongly with this same message. Again, the use of “you” makes it feel like Lorde is talking directly to her audience. She sings, “Growing up a little at a time and then all at once / Everybody wants the best for you / But you gotta want it for yourself.” Pre-pandemic, I felt like I was growing up at a good pace. I was allowed to learn from my mistakes. But Covid has heightened the urgency for everything, and suddenly I felt like the world was becoming sink or swim. As you become an adult, you realize that your choices are now wholly your own. This can be good, but it can also be scary. High schoolers are given so much structure, so the jump to college or a full-time job can be intimidating. Part of your new responsibility is taking care of yourself and learning what you want from your life. Lorde is reminding the listener that growing up means learning to want the best for yourself, partly through giving up the self-destruction of your teenage years.
The instrumentals in this album are generally light and fun, or else understated and peaceful. The main focus is on the lyricism, but the backing adds to the vibe. “Oceanic Feeling” has a soft, tropical beat. To me, this feels like a beachy album that you could also cry to if necessary.
One of the reasons why I relate so much to Lorde is that we grew up at the same time. I thought I wasn’t ready for this album, but it mirrors exactly what I’m feeling as I continue to navigate the pandemic and early adulthood. I hope that it doesn’t take another four years for Lorde to produce another album, but I am prepared to wait.