Lorde Breaks Up With The Spotlight and Walks Into the Sun With ‘Solar Power’
Lorde has transcended. Lorde has found her peace. She has gone to the end of the world and back, and this is what she has elected to share with us
I have zero clue as to whether Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor (aka Lorde) turns to the cosmos for guidance. It is, however, poetic of her to drop an album called Solar Power at the tail end of Leo season. And just as the majestic Lion grudgingly yet gracefully leaves his perch—for now, anyway—to make room for other energies, so does this record, through which its artist sheds the limelight and walks straight into the sun.
Some time after concluding the world tour for her sophomore album, Melodrama, Lorde—a Scorpio through and through—made a conscious decision to vanish both from social media and the public eye. The singer-songwriter went home to Auckland, and little was seen from her on the online sphere save for the occasional onion rings review. And some time after that, spurred on by the ongoing climate crisis, she traveled to Antarctica.
“I had to see it before it was too late. And because I’m a pop star, and the world is extremely unfair, I made a few calls, got several dozen booster shots, and I was off in search of the end of the world,” Lorde shared in an article she penned for Rolling Stone.
This very voyage played a pivotal role in the inception of Solar Power, her highly-anticipated third outing. It’s a far cry from the moody hypnosis of Pure Heroine and the self-deprecating hedonism of Melodrama. Lorde has always been impressively self-aware, but this time, she’s not picking fights. Her melodies float, her lyrics captivate, and it’s all just very beautiful in that plain-as-day way.
“Solar Power,” which was released as a single prior, is a buoyant, nonchalant number that signals optimism and starting anew. The album opens with “The Path,” where Lorde makes it clear to us that she’s a “teen millionaire having nightmares from the camera flash,” “alone on a windswept island” and “won’t take a call if it’s the label or the radio.” This narrative persists through the once-upon-a-time-in-Hollywood ode “California” but takes a small detour in “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” where she reflects on what she might be missing out on.
Lorde allows herself a moment of grief in “Big Star,” a soulful tribute to her dog Pearl, who’d unfortunately passed away. The breezy “Mood Ring” is a satirical take on wellness culture, focusing on the ways in which we try to stay connected to the world on a pseudo-spiritual level.
If you’re looking for distinct stylistic arrangements a la “Supercut” or “Team,” you might find Solar Power’s tracks lacking in that department. If you’re here to see Lorde outdo herself after years on hiatus, she definitely has—not just in the way we were expecting her to. There’s a newness and a gentleness that threads through Solar Power in its entirety. Lorde has transcended. Lorde has found her peace. She has gone to the end of the world and back, and this is what she has elected to share with us. And I am genuinely happy for her—if not rather envious.
Photography by Ophelia Mikkelson Jones