Image: Ophelia Mikkelson
After four long years of excruciating radio silence, New Zealand's Queen of Pop has reclaimed her throne. Lorde’s hotly-anticipated third studio album, Solar Power, is upon us. Shying away from the pop sonics that made her a superstar, the singer leans on more organic instrumentation as she abandons life in the spotlight for a quite life led by the warmth of the summer sun, and the joy found in life's smaller, more intimate moments.
Opening with plucked-guitar and dulcet flute sounds on the records starter, The Path, Lorde shuns her fame as she recalls on “having nightmares from the camera flash”, before reminding listeners “If you’re looking for a saviour, well that’s not me” as the singer introduces us to her new remote lifestyle and hopes the sun will shine some light. The infectious title track captures all of those summer feelings, emanating like a warm glow shrouded upon us whilst we southern hemisphere folk are shivering in our winter boots. Conceptually, the song flirts with all those summer feelings and the revitalising energy sunshine can bring, a theme woven throughout the DNA of the record.
By the 60’s inspired California, Lorde has relinquished any claim to fame, noting the notoriety that came after her GRAMMY wins, retreating back into nature and the world she called home prior to fame. The sombre Stoned at the Nail Salon navigates getting older and the subtle yet powerful changes you observe within yourself, whilst pondering your life choices and the impact they've had. With Clairo and Phoebe Bridgers on backing vocals, the sparse track brings the singers knack for introspective lyricism, with Lorde's distinctive vocals offering moments of vulnerability.
A hint of pre-Solar Power Lorde rears its head on Fallen Fruit, electronic drums and chilling harmonies laced throughout, with the tracks instrumental breakdown and mesmerising chorus channelling Fleetwood Mac. The record takes a psychedelic turn on The Man with the Axe, as she falls in love. On Big Star, the singer draws lyrical connections to her 2017 track Liability, “but every perfect summer’s gotta say goodnight”.
Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All), Dominoes and Mood Ring sonically draw from the early 2000’s, with the latter lyrically referencing the era. The trio of tracks, meander around themes of wellness, with Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All) featuring vocals from Swedish singer, songwriter, record producer Robyn, as she guides us to a place of euphoria. Mood Ring is arguably one of the more pop focused songs we've heard from the singer, with references to early 2000's lyrically and sonically, bringing Natalie Imbruglia vibes within subtle 60's inspired sonics, more prominently introduced earlier in Leader of a New Regime. Mood Ring offers up Lorde's own thoughts and takes on wellness culture, in search for a spiritual replenishment through a satirical approach.
By the albums closer Oceanic Feeling, the old Lorde is long gone, “gathering dust in a drawer”. Instead, we’re greeted with the warm glow of a new type of superstar. One who thrives away from the harsh luminescence of the spotlight, finding power in a quiet life and grateful for her anonymity under the sun. She ponders what the future holds for herself and her loved ones, welcoming in a new stage of life.
The bright record hides its complexity in plain sight; introspective and conversational lyricism run wild, with the singers talent for capturing the feelings and emotions of her generation scattered throughout the record. Teaming up once again with longtime producer Jack Antonoff, the organic-led release is a welcome change from the singers usual electronic sonics, bringing an overall natural sound through the instrumentation and samples, including recordings of cicadas. Laced with catchy melodies, Solar Power is an understated masterpiece that counts on each track to create a new realm for the singers music to exist within. Lorde’s musical prowess transcends the fame and success that arrived alongside her debut album Pure Heroine, with her latest effort proving that time away from the spotlight allows for a natural reinvention and revitalisation.
Grab a speaker, a mandarin, sit out in the sun and enjoy whilst you take in Lorde's latest offering.
Solar Power is out now!