THE RETURN OF OUR LORDE AND SAVIOUR: SOLAR POWER
After disappearing off the grid for four years, Lorde made a surprise return to the music scene, breaking the internet with some risque cover art for her latest album, Solar Power.
Pure Heroine and Melodrama provided us with the microcosms of Lorde’s own personal life as she struggled with her journey through young adulthood and anxieties surrounding being a teenager. Solar Power takes on a more macro and micro approach into her journey – reflecting both on her personal grief and relationship with the natural world.
Releasing her titular single, ‘Solar Power,’ Lorde demonstrates her new, carefree nature as she “throws [her] cellular device in the water” whilst frolicking in an unknown beach in New Zealand. Fans have dubbed this music video as ‘unorthodox’ in comparison to her usual melancholic tone, comparing it to Ari Aster’s 2019 film Midsommar.
Despite this seemingly happier and brighter era, Lorde still discusses important social issues in conjunction with her own personal grief. The album’s third single ‘Mood Ring,’ depicts a blonde Wiccan coven united in praising the beauty of spirituality. Whilst this cult-like imagery seems innocent, it provides a satirical representation of how white women often exploit Indigenous spiritual practices all in the name of ‘wellness’ and ‘oneness with nature.’
Lorde further encapsulates the importance of preserving the climate in the more serious song ‘Fallen Fruit.’ Between Melodrama and Solar Power, Lorde had the opportunity to travel to Antarctica, witnessing first-hand the devastating effects of climate change. ‘Fallen Fruit’ is her attempt at communicating with “[her] parents’ generation,” asking them, “Do you know what you’ve done? How could you left us with this?’’ as she mentioned in an interview for Spotify.
The tribute to the natural world in her album can be accredited to the self-discovery of beauty within nature that she explored during her four year hiatus. She took this opportunity to disconnect herself from the online community and expose herself to the wonders of nature. Unlike her previous two albums, Lorde’s absence from the online community gave her the opportunity to criticise and reflect upon one’s disconnect with Mother Earth. In ‘California,’ she says “Goodbye to all the bottles, all the models,” rejecting the glitz and glam of Hollywood, which had consumed her: “Don’t want that California love.”
Of course, it would not be a Lorde album without a tinge of her own personal journey of life and grief in the past four years. Reminiscing on her teenage years, she offers wisdom to her younger self in “Secret from a Girl (Who’s seen it all).” In an interview for Spotify, she discusses how she reused two chords from her iconic track ‘Ribs,’ a song that discusses the anxiety she experienced as a teenager. This tribute to her younger self is her attempt at comforting a young and shy 16-year-old self who thinks it “feels so scary growing old,” reminding her that all will eventually be okay. The ending monologue by Swedish singer, Robyn, cements the tone of this song, as “the familiarisation of the past which leads to one’s acceptance” as mentioned by Lorde in an interview for Genius.
Your emotional baggage can be picked up at carousel number two/Please be careful so that it doesn’t fall onto someone you love/When we’ve reached your final destination/I will leave you to it/You’ll be fine– RObyn
Perhaps the most personal song of the album is the song ‘Big Star’ where Lorde narrates her grief around the passing of her beloved dog, Pearl. Though it was written before his passing, Lorde’s connection with Pearl had brought a sense of love and radiance into her life. In an interview for The Guardian, she has mentioned that grief and loss had in turn became a “transformative force that makes you question everything, and this record talks about how precious life really is”.
Solar Power has ushered us into a new era of Lorde. Gone are her lamentations and anxieties about life – here she is welcoming fans into the next stage of her journey. Her versatility and ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude feel heavily inspired by the flower child era of the 60s and 70s. She does not simply cater to audiences who are fans of her old era, but instead creates music to showcase the different stages of her life.
In an interview with Wall Street Journal, she states how she likes having control over her own musical career and simply does not create music for the charts or to ‘climb greater heights’. As a result, there has been mixed reviews regarding her music, with arguments merely centering around the idea that she does not stick to her Sad Girl stereotype. However, although the new album has undoubtedly differentiated from her last two, it is simply part of her vision to create music that encapsulates her own authentic self instead of creating a ‘commercial success’ that depicts merely a facade.
There are definitely no songs like ‘Ribs’ or ‘Perfect Places’– songs that make you want to scream your heart out in the dead of night. However, in true Lorde fashion, she sticks to her own artistry and creates a refreshing light and playful album, breaking the Sad Girl music stereotype.