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Lorde has always been a concept artist, focusing each album on a particular stage in her personal life. “Pure Heroine” conjured up greyish tones colored with saturated sunsets-the setting of adolescence in life. “Melodrama” went deeper into the evening, bringing out darker, moodier blues and purples that come with our later teenage years. I predicted “Solar Power” to bring us out of this night that Lorde left us in-a sort of rebirth into young adulthood. I anticipated happier and more playful, yet still introspective, tunes that fit into those endless summer days where you feel infinite.

Lorde wrote “Melodrama” at around 19 years old. Now being 24, her music was bound to reveal the transformational growth that comes during your early 20s. On top of this, she spent time in Antarctica in 2019, which she described as “thrilling and spiritually intense,” so I knew there would be a shift in her perspective brought upon by influences of nature. The pandemic forced us to spend more time in nature as well, and I was excited to see how Lorde, who focused her songs on relationships and the suburbs/city life, would sing about nature and the more withdrawn lifestyle she has led over the past few years.

Lorde opens the album making it clear that even though she may be a few years older, she and her friends are just as lost in the path of life. It seems like instead of finding her path with the parties and heartbreaks she sang about in “Melodrama,” she now turns to nature in hopes of guidance, singing, “Saviour is not me, I just hope the sun will show us the path.”

“The Path” begins with a beautiful melody using a wider variety of instruments than those in her previous works. It is one of the most upbeat songs I’ve heard since “Million Dollar Bills.” In “Dominoes,” a song about her ex moving through many girls after their relationship, Lorde sings in a carefree voice on the backdrop of an upbeat guitar tune. This is in contrast to her album “Melodrama,” where Lorde sang of ex-lovers in a sorrowful voice intensified by heavy instrumentals. It feels like her maturity has allowed her to reach closure on those that have done her wrong. Even the most reflective songs, such as “Fallen Fruit,” take on an upbeat tone. 

Inspired by her trip to Antarctica, one of this album’s most prominent themes is environmental activism. Lorde has never explicitly brought politics or world issues into her music, so it was exciting to see how she sings about climate change from a cautionary yet hopeful perspective. On “Fallen Fruit,” she sings of the hope her generation has to heal Earth despite the damage left behind by previous generations. This song comes across as a rallying cry, as a chorus of voices echoes each line of the verses. I can imagine a group of protesters taking it on as their anthem, all chanting on the line, “We will walk together…through the halls of splendor where the apple trees all grew.”

Allusions to nature abound. Lorde sings of a new love that keeps her grounded using the metaphor of a pine tree being felled on “The Man with the Axe.” She uses the word summer to represent feelings of love while winter represents loss and grief on “Big Star,” a song about her dog Pearl dying.

Lorde has always been conscious of her fame and the impact it has on her, and Solar Power is no different. On “California,” she expresses her desire to let go of Hollywood’s spotlight, which she claims is just a dream, in exchange for being back in her hometown. She continues this desire on “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” a more somber track about the passage of time through her years of fame. She acknowledges that she will inevitably be in the spotlight as long as she continues releasing music but would like to enter a phase where she can “Spend all the evenings [she] can with the people who raised [her]” for now.

Lorde has highlighted how she values connections between songs and carefully chooses her lyrics to connect back to previous eras. “Solar Power” is no different. “Secrets from a Girl ” is the older sister responding to the heartbreaks and messy parties that the younger Lorde recounted on Melodrama. Her growth is apparent as she tells her younger self, “You’re gonna love again, so just try staying open.” 

The track “Solar Power” struck me as a response to “Buzzcut Season,” both of which sing of the bliss that comes with summer. While “Buzzcut Season” is critical of those who discount the problems of the “real world” to have fun in the summer, “Solar Power” embraces this carefree attitude. On this track, Lorde throws her phone away and drags her friends onto the beach to let go of their tears. “Buzzcut Season” has always been one of my personal favorites, but this contrast changed my perspective. I realized that maybe the world in which we ignore our problems should coexist with the “real world” in which we are eventually forced to face them and that both of these worlds are just as real. Maybe growing up is about dropping the cynicism that gripped our teenage years to enjoy life guilt-free.

If “Pure Heroine” is dusk and “Melodrama” is the night, then Solar Power is the dawn of Lorde’s three-part story. Warm sunlight drenches the playful guitar tunes on this album. Listening through, I see splashes of bright yellow and pale blue, with cool melodies that feel like water flowing through my mind, clearing my head. Although this album takes on a more hopeful tone, Lorde stays true to her introspective nature. From critiquing our failure to protect the Earth to detailing how she personally draws strength from nature, Lorde uses Solar Power to fuel change and growth as she navigates adulthood.

Tanya Kurnootala is a sophomore at VCU majoring in biology. She enjoys writing about issues that enrich the female perspective, with a focus on politics and women's health.
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