Everyone who has lied down on their bedroom floor and had a quarter-life crisis listening to “Ribs”—it’s your time to shine.
It’s been almost four years since we last had a Lorde album released, but it looks like we won’t be getting another sad one anytime soon. Lorde’s 2013 album “Pure Heroine” is known for its nostalgic anthems like “A World Alone,” and I personally don’t know anyone who listens to her 2017 record “Melodrama” and doesn’t cry when “Liability” comes on. So, when coming into my first listen of “Solar Power,” I prepared myself for a similar experience.
When I got an email from Lorde on June 10, 2021, about a new album, I definitely teared up and called all my friends who I knew would be excited. She introduced her third album with the single “Solar Power,” which I couldn’t get enough of. I always feel like Lorde releases music right on time and knows when I’m going through a big change, so hearing “Forget all of the tears that you’ve cried / It’s over” on the only solar eclipse of the year in the middle of the summer before my senior year kind of made my day.
It almost came as a shock to me that people were comparing the song to “retail music” and “part of a shaving commercial,” until it hit me that everyone was still expecting the melancholy jams she gave us in the past.
If you’re looking for an album solely to cry to, go back to “Melodrama.” This is “Solar Power.”
1. The Path
Melancholy horns and arpeggio caught me off guard with her opening song to this album. Her verses including “Arm in a cast at the museum gala / Fork in my purse to take home to my mother / Supermodels all dancing ’round a pharaoh’s tomb” made me realize we still have the Lorde we always wanted! This song starts out nothing like the single “Solar Power,” until it becomes more upbeat as she sings, “Let’s hope the sun will show us the path.” This almost peppy song gives us an introduction into the theme of the album: looking forward to change in new beginnings.
2. Solar Power
You should know that I will defend this song with my life. Sure, the choral segments and acoustic guitar are kind of giving Macy’s annual sale, but I’ve been waiting for my happy Lorde anthem! The line “Can you reach me? No, you can’t” had trended on TikTok with creators showing themselves on vacation, living their best lives, and telling everyone they will never respond to their text messages again. If that doesn’t tell you how carefree this song is, I don’t know what does.
If you’ve never heard a song that is being carried by the chorus, you have now. I wanted to like this song so badly—I mean, who doesn’t love a song that is all about the reality of Hollywood—but the verses just seem so cheesy. The lyrics are definitely authentic: “Once upon a time in Hollywood when Carole called my name / I stood up, the room exploded / And I knew that’s it, I’ll never be the same,” and I totally feel for her experience in the spotlight, but something about monotonous verses takes me away from enjoying it.
4. Stoned at the Nail Salon
Everyone who is looking for the old Lorde will find their home in this song. This single is a softy, and it stole many hearts of her listeners. She expresses all of her doubtful thoughts, like “I love this life that I have, the vine hangin’ over the door / And the dog who comes when I call, but I wonder sometimes what I’m missin,’” and “Spend all the evenings you can with the people who raised you / ‘Cause all the times they will change, it’ll all come around,” but closes them all with the thought that maybe she’s “just stoned at the nail salon.” The guitar and vocal layering is what really makes the song so emotional, and I can’t get enough of it.
5. Fallen Fruit
Lorde wrote a beautiful song about the struggling Earth and the impact of climate change, and it’s just the right amount of beautiful where you’ll still pay close attention to the lyrics. She sings, “We had no idea the dreams we had were far too big / Far too big,” which brings the reality to light that the environment is so messed up now because of humanity. This song has a darker sound, again with the layered and reverbed vocals that create such a nice, full sound.
6. Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)
If you’re afraid you’re growing up, here is your advice from your big sister Lorde. This song opens with Lorde reflecting on her past, and she’s basically reassuring her younger self that everything turns out okay. She gives multiple verses of advice, such as “Everybody wants the best for you / But you gotta want it for yourself / My love,” and closes all of them with the fact that these are “Secrets from a girl, who’s seen it all.” Thank you, Lorde! The upbeat drums and acoustic guitar bring listeners a sense of comfort, and I can’t listen to it without getting chills.
7. The Man with the Axe
Can you believe this is a love song? Lorde has always been open with her lyrics, but this one is just so real, it’s heart-wrenching. She describes the little things she appreciates about her loved one—“it’s the way you love to dance / Moving the furniture when my back is turned”—with a sound tender enough to make you tear up a little bit. This song’s dream-like sound has already made it a fan favorite.
This is the prettiest shade-throwing song I’ve ever heard. This song sounds just like the beauty of moving on, with lyrics like “Just another phase you’re shooting on through / The whole world changes right around you” and a soft guitar sound. This is one of the more relaxed songs on the album, but those lyrics aren’t fooling anyone, and neither is the ex who Lorde is writing about.
9. Big Star
Here’s the dog song. It hurts so bad. At the first listen, lyrics like “Everyone knows that you’re too good for me, don’t they?” and “You’re a big star / Wanna take your picture” make it seem like this is a romantic love song to her boyfriend. However, Lorde recently noted how she wrote this song with her dog Pearl sitting under the piano. Lorde announced in an email to fans in 2019 that Pearl passed away, and the thought just makes the mellow lyrics like “Wanna take your picture / ‘Til I die” so much more emotional.
10. Leader of a New Regime
“Leader of a New Regime” isn’t anything special, but it doesn’t seem like it was meant to be. This 1 ½ minute tune is soft enough to put all of your attention on the lyrics, where Lorde hopes that someone will take the lead in rescuing the world and its environment from this selfish society. Though the song is short, these lyrics like “Free the keepers of the burnt-out scene / Another day, lust and paranoia reigns supreme” are some of the best of the album; she hits listeners where it hurts and calls all those who put selfish needs above the planet, bringing this soft, slow song to a new level of strength when covering the environment’s issues.
11. Mood Ring
Lorde recently broke down the meaning of this song for Genius; this one is more of a satirical song all about the spiritual connection everyone tries to find in this world, though it may be artificial, similar to how a mood ring doesn’t really tell your mood. The vocals in this song are beyond, and paired with the acoustic guitar, this song sounds straight out of a dressing room montage in a teen movie. Don’t let the sound fool you, though—Lorde’s giving us another song of calling a majority of the population out: the lyrics “Plants and celebrity news, all the vitamins I consume / Let’s fly somewhere eastern, they’ll have what I need” are mocking those who follow trends of taking fancy vitamins and moving to a city, and she’s got tons of other verses doing the same thing throughout this song. I feel called out, but I’m okay with it because this song is beautiful.
12. Oceanic Feeling
Lorde knew she had to close with a strong song, and she did exactly that. “Oceanic Feeling” is 6 minutes and 39 seconds of an ode to New Zealand as she sings about Bulli Point, her family, and the beach. As the beat gets a little stronger and the guitar gets louder, she sings, “Now the cherry black lipstick’s gathering dust in a drawer / I don’t need her anymore,” taking us back to her “Pure Heroine” days, when she always wore black clothes and that dark red lipstick, and letting us know that those days are over. This song is the final dedication to the joy that comes from the sun and its new beginnings.
For many, this album has been a hit or miss. I definitely expected something different, but I’m just grateful that we have an album! Some of the songs are a little too cheesy for me, but the emotion-filled hits like “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All)” and “Big Star” prove that this album did its job and gave us the nostalgic songs we all needed. Still, this is just an introduction to a new era of Lorde! She’s beginning her tour early next year, and from there we’ll get more insight into how she is growing beyond her past of melancholy albums and into a brighter, upbeat future of new music.