Lorde has evolved from a melancholic teen to an introspective, mystic flower child for her third album Solar Power. This new era of repurposed vintage sound and style is slower and less standout, but doesn’t lack Lorde’s insightful, reflective lyricism.
The album is calm, sunny and cohesive, separating it from Lorde’s sonically impactful electro-pop predecessor, Melodrama. The 12 tracks blend seamlessly together, each peppered with acoustic, finger-picked guitar strums, Lorde’s endearing warbling long notes, and a folky ambience (complete with flute playing). The lyrics sound like a story, but the standout singles are lacking, making it bland at times. It’s a treat when bursts of early 2000s sounding pop appears in the background adding to the nostalgic references.
Solar Power also has elements that mirror the carefree, spiritual 1960s. The accompanying music videos and wellness-themed lyrics inspires twirling around with long hair and loose dresses, against a surging anti-establishment movement. Lorde admitted to Apple Music that the similarities are not coincidental. Her comparison takes on a satirical edge, as it references the dichotomy between then and today’s age of pseudo-science and tokenism.
The Mood Ring music video, featuring a cohort of ethereal women wearing matching mint green satin attire, is resonant of a Midsommar cult, and seems to poke fun at woke wellness influencers. Lorde calls for simpler times, to remove oneself from the pitfalls of modern life and throw your “cellular device in the water.”
Stoned at the Nail Salon is a psychedelic, chilled and thoughtful track. The heavy lyrics tell of growing up and growing out of what you used to love, set against a stripped back production of echoing harmonies and simple strumming. The Path is sonically similar, however dips into happier notes of that early 2000s pop in the latter half.
Some tracks encompass a small, noticeable feature that makes them distinguishable. Fallen Fruit has a catchy and haunting piano riff while it addresses the environmental failures of older generations; Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All) sounds the peppiest and features a reflective, flight attendant-esque spoken outro by Robyn (Dancing on My Own); and Oceanic Feeling’s outro is co-sung by fellow New Zealand singer-songwriter Marlon Williams.
Lorde’s latest pop foray won’t dominate radio waves like her 2013 debut single Royals, but still deserves to be listened to. Solar Power is a perfect perfect album to unwind to – and best enjoyed as a soundtrack to some kind of relaxing activity.
David Bowie once went so far as to say Lorde was “the future of music.” If her sound experimentation and lyrics full of social commentary continues in this trajectory, it will be hard to disagree. Lorde’s therapeutic and sedative Solar Power is a pleasure to listen to and ruminate on and perfectly paired with summer sunshine.