When Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, more fondly known as Lorde, sang “Can you reach me? No”, she wasn’t joking. The release of her long-awaited third album, Solar Power, commemorates her departure from the expectations that come with superstardom, while feeding into her desire to connect with nature and spirituality. A shift away from her sophomore album, which explored the trivial teenage experiences of heartbreak, substance experimentation, and finding yourself despite unstable circumstances; Solar Power is a mellow, subtle embrace of staying true to yourself.
Opening track The Path touches on the concept of a young teen thrusted into the public eye suddenly feeling the negative consequences of such, a lyric that could have come from a place of personal experience for Lorde. This theme is not unusual for the New Zealand singer-songwriter; her 2013 debut single Royals describes the flashy lifestyles of well-off LA teens which did not appeal to Lorde, being 16 years old at the time. The Path swiftly turns into a plea for listeners to turn to the power of nature in order to heal, leading effortlessly into the album’s lead single and titular track, Solar Power. The carefree, contagiously catchy song promotes throwing away your phone, cancelling plans and indulging in some vitamin D instead.
It would not be a 2021 album without the presence of some climate change commentary. It was announced early on that Solar Power would not be available to be purchased in physical format. Instead of a disc, fans can purchase an exclusive, eco-friendly memorabilia box full of prints, photos, handwritten letters, and a high-quality album download with bonus tracks. Despite the fact that Solar Power was not an intentional climate change statement album, Fallen Fruit questions older generations’ lack of care towards the Earth and holds them accountable for the damage we see today. The track embodies Lorde’s connection to the Hippie Movement and 1960s counterculture, which is seen towards the album’s finale as Mood Ring lusts over crystals and astrology.
Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All) is a letter written to her younger self. With a helping hand from pop’s most in-demand producer, Jack Antonoff, the chords of this song are the reverse of those from Ribs, a fan favourite from Lorde’s debut album Pure Heroine, exploring the bittersweet experience of getting older. The consistent parallels between Solar Power and Pure Heroine exemplify how wise Lorde is beyond her years. Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All) is reminiscent of the sound of numerous 2000’s pop princesses – think Natasha Bedingfield or All Saints – and recruits none other than Swedish pop sensation Robyn to bring the track to a triumphant close.
Solar Power comes to a cinematic end with Oceanic Feeling. Lorde mourns the death of her previous image, thinking about the “cherry-black lipstick” now collecting dust in her drawers while envisioning her future child’s upbringing. The album’s final lyric has connotations to the afterlife and reincarnation, bringing Solar Power’s prominent themes of spirituality and the natural way of life full circle.
Lorde’s third album is an impressive, humble addition to her already exquisite discography.
Listen to Solar Power here.
Featured Image: Ophelia Mikkelson Jones