'Solar Power' by Lorde - Review
I guess I’ll always be this way
Swallowed up by the words and halfway to space
Five years after David Bowie described her as ‘the future of music’, Lorde released her third album, Solar Power. It’s a tribute to tragic utopias and escapism in the face of today’s society.
Overall it has the elevated, enlightened, somewhat dazed feel of a quarter-life crisis. Solar Power boasts versatile vocals and blatantly anti-Hollywood lyrics, opening with the bold description of her past self as a ‘teen millionaire having nightmares from the camera flash’. The critics are claiming she forgot the hits, or that she’s misplaced excellent lyrics in drab melodies, but, respectfully, those professionals have missed the point. From the start, it’s clear that she is divorcing herself from the glitz and glamour that inspired her sophomore album.
Solar Power opens with The Path, and leads us into a new era of Lorde that delivers the stripped back rawness that she’s been hinting at since her return to the spotlight. Her sound has gone from moody alternative pop in Pure Heroine, to dancy, ‘happy-but-sad’ pop in Melodrama, to vocally dominant psychedelic folk in Solar Power. And Jack Antonoff is still there, working his production magic in the sound booth.
Solar Power captures the dizzy, existential feeling of sunstroke on a sticky summer’s day. As Lorde introduces us to the characters and alter egos of the album, from the goddess of a hidden island in Solar Power to the depressed wellness guru in Mood Ring, it’s hard not to empathise with the desperation to just be somewhere else.
Still, shifting genre album-to-album can be divisive (see Taylor Swift's Folklore review.) For all Lorde's talent and skill, some people just aren't gonna like the new sound. But this is my review, so only my opinion matters right now, and I love it. It's so good! There's a uniquely Antonoffian element to the production, present in most major pop releases these days, and it works so beautifully with Lorde's introspective, drawling vocals. Lorde has always identified as a writer, and in this album it’s clear that the lyrics take priority. Some lines sound like a warm hug, and others offer a punch in the gut. For any other mid-youth crisis sufferers out there, I suggest listening to Secrets From A Girl (Who’s Seen It All) if you need a good cry.
Okay, I was never going to dislike the album. After falling in love with her earliest work in 2014, at this point Lorde could release a voice note of her grocery list and I'd give it five stars. The whole album has been on repeat in my flat for the past 24 hours, and will be for the next four years until her fourth album. She's my prettier Jesus.