Lorde is notorious for the story-like nature of her albums, often starting and ending an album with similar or juxtaposed themes. On her debut record, “Pure Heroine,” she begins the first track with “Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk?” and ends the final track with the line “But people are talking, people are talking / Let ’em talk.” And on her sophomore album “Melodrama,” she tells the tale of a house party. The concept for her brand new album, “Solar Power”? Nature. In 2019, Lorde visited Antarctica and that trip bore her memoir/photo-book “Going South.” The book was released in June 2021 as a “precursor” to “Solar Power.”
It seems to me that Lorde’s proven superb ability to procure cohesiveness has leaned more into sonic repetitiveness this time around. The production, done by Lorde, Jack Antonoff and in part by James Ryan Ho (better known as Malay) leaves something to be desired. I understand that not every album is going to be as blatantly over-the-top pop as fan favorite “Melodrama,” but the whole album falls one step short of whole, and is almost too understated.
However, songwriting is one area in which I’m convinced Lorde will never fall short. “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All),” “The Man with the Axe” and “Big Star” are the three lyrically strongest tracks on the record. The following is a collection of my favorite lyrics from the album:
- “I should’ve known when your favorite record / Was the same as my father’s you’d take me down” — “The Man with the Axe”
- “Couldn’t wait to turn fifteen / Then you blink and it’s been ten years / Growing up a little at a time, then all at once / Everybody wants the best for you / But you gotta want it for yourself, my love” — “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All)”
- “I used to love the party, now I’m not alright / Hope the honeybees make it home tonight” — “Big Star”
- “In the future / If I have a daughter / Will she have my waist / Or my widow’s peak? / My dreamer’s disposition or my wicked streak?” — “Oceanic Feeling”
And it does possess the aforementioned circularity that her previous albums boast. The first track, “The Path” begs the audience to understand that she is not a savior nor a messiah (despite her stage name). “Oceanic Feeling,” the closing song, ends with the lyric “… I’ll know when it’s time / To take off my robes and step into the choir.”
Aside from the previously mentioned production collaboration, the album also contains much collaboration with other artists. Clairo, Phoebe Bridgers, Lawrence Arabia and Marlon Williams provide backing vocals on numerous tracks. Swedish musician Robyn, co-wrote and did the spoken outro on “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All).” Jack Antonoff also has songwriting credits on eight of the twelve tracks.
Fan and critical reception has been decent but far below par for a Lorde album. In my opinion, she had a vision and executed it, which is all you can ask for in art. She wasn’t trying to make another “Melodrama,” she was trying to make “Solar Power,” and she did just that.