Lorde lights up 2021 with her new album ‘Solar Power’

Caroline Scharf

On Aug. 20, indie-pop singer Lorde released her highly anticipated album, “Solar Power.” Lorde fans waited for this album for nearly four years, and many hoped it would live up to her previous album’s critical success. “Solar Power” introduced fans to a new sound that was more vibrant than ever before, but lacked a certain creative sound that is exercised in Lorde’s previous projects.

“Solar Power” album cover depicts Lorde running towards the blue sky in only her bikini (Courtesy of Universal Music Group)

After her Melodrama tour in 2018, Lorde decided to take a break from recording, and took a few years off to rest before recording her next album. “Solar Power” shifts away from Lorde’s previously melancholic music and utilizes a more optimistic outlook as she sings about how she has grown as a person. In an interview with USA Today, Lorde elaborated on how her time in relaxation inspired a new direction of her music.

“If you told me [I would be inspired by going] for a walk in the park by your house every day for a year, I would have been like ‘No, no, no, I’m not gonna write an album about that,’ but I did,” Lorde said.

The title track, “Solar Power,” was released on June 11 and has accumulated 62.9 million streams on Spotify. An immediate change of pace from her previous releases, the track opens with an acoustic guitar and breathy vocals. Lorde’s voice is smooth as she explores escaping into nature to relieve the stresses of modern life. It’s full of catchy lyrics and has the upbeat feeling of a day near the ocean. 

 Taking a tonal shift, Lorde’s new album has a more stripped-down sound is a step down from her previous album “Melodrama”, where each song had a distinct sound (Courtesy of Ophelia Mikkelson Jones).

“Solar Power” isn’t the only song that takes on a more carefree style. Her free-spirited nature is also present in her song “Dominoes,” which is filled with cheerful strums of the acoustic guitar. There are clear influences of artists like Joni Mitchell in these tracks, as they embody a more stripped-down musical style. This approach is consistent throughout almost the entire project and is a major shift from her previous, more electronic-based songs. 

One stand-out aspect of the album is its lyrical content. Lorde’s writing is extremely personal and each song gets the listener thinking about relationships, self-actualization and the state of the world. “Stoned at the Nail Salon” shows themes of self-awareness, especially regarding how Lorde has grown up in the public eye. This track looks back on how Lorde has had doubts over her life in the music industry, and her lyrics get right to the point, accentuating her confused feelings over the life she’s chosen. 

Her introspection also turns outward towards the world. The track “Mood Ring” dissects the ways that people use new-age wellness techniques to cope with their struggles. She sings, “You can burn sage, and I’ll cleanse the crystals/We can get high, but only if the wind blows/I can’t feel a thing/I keep looking at my mood ring.” While the music is lively and upbeat, Lorde’s lyrics still emphasize deeper and thoughtful themes.

However, while lyrically diverse, “Solar Power” is musically repetitive. Throughout the project, it’s easy to find similar-sounding instrumentation. The stripped-down sound is enjoyable, but it’s overused and can feel lackluster at times. This repetition is disappointing, as it is a step down from her previous album, “Melodrama,” in which each track had a distinct sound. The lack of diversity amongst the tracks ends up taking away from the overall listening experience. 

Returning from a four-year break, Lorde recorded her latest album (Courtesy of Ophelia Mikkelson Jones).

“Solar Power” introduced fans to a new sound from Lorde, and for many, it takes a few listens to fully appreciate. While struggling instrumentally, the album is a tonal breath of fresh air with beautiful songwriting and vocal talent.