Talia Rueda ’23
Lorde came into the music industry in 2013 in full force. She offered a distinctive music style to the world of Tumblr-lovers while also being highly relatable. Her first album, titled Pure Heroine, gave listeners the iconic singles “Royals” and “Ribs” that still evoke the utmost emotion today, even after fans have graduated from the grunge-Tumblr era. Lorde’s first album did exactly what it was meant to do as she entered the industry, which was to make her mark as a blossoming artist. She was young, and so were her listeners, who were displaying their emotions on social media for the first time. Indeed, in several ways, the artist and her listeners have grown up together.
This was certainly evident with Lorde’s second album, Melodrama, which blessed listeners’ ears in 2017. Fans saw a new chapter of the singer’s life, one with a less innocent point of view. The album’s title was a superb fit for its content, and the artist successfully appealed to listeners’ emotions. Something was different this time around: Lorde was growing up and learning to navigate the brutality of being a young woman.
So, what stage of life are Lorde and her fans at with her third album, four years later? Its title offers a clear indication of the answer to this question.
Solar Power was released on Aug. 20, 2021. Listeners were anxious to see what Lorde was going to make them feel this time. What many have probably found, though, is that Lorde did not have to make them feel anything: they were already on the same page.
The album demonstrates a significant amount of growth from her last release four long years ago. This did not come as a surprise. Not only had Lorde taken four years to release a new project, but she also removed herself from the grid in the meantime, disappearing from both social media and the public. Avid followers know that she took time to reflect, perhaps on her grief as shown on Melodrama, or maybe on climate change as she traveled from New Zealand to Antarctica.
One thing is clear from her new release—Lorde seems truly content and untroubled. In a departure from her past albums, her lyrics and production have a new sense of freedom, and she seems to want her listeners to feel the same delight she has been experiencing. For instance, Solar Power’s second single, “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” contains lyrics expressing a carefreeness that seems so different from the intensity of Melodrama. These lines read, “Cause all the music you loved at sixteen, you’ll grow out of / And all the times they will change, it’ll all come around / I don’t know / Maybe I’m just / Maybe I’m just stoned at the nail salon again.”
These lines seem to perfectly capture Lorde’s internal growth. Indeed, “Stoned at the Nail Salon” in particular discusses how her mindset has changed from when she was 16 years old. She also acknowledges that it is okay to grow apart from the habits and interests of one’s youth.
In addition to the lyrical differences between the artist’s earlier work and her latest release, the production of Solar Power takes an easier approach. The music itself is much more simple and reserved in its organization. Lorde even allows some harmonies from other artists on this album, including iconic indie singers Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo. In these and other aspects of the album, from lyrics to harmonies, it is clear that Lorde has become significantly lighter and seems glad to share this radiance with listeners.
Lorde’s newfound perspective, as expressed on Solar Power, embodies the new chapter of life that she is in. After years of privacy and remoteness, she is back to showcase how she has healed.
Many of Lorde’s fans have felt the emotions expressed on her highly personal first and second albums, drawing connections between her life and theirs. Her listeners have always been on the same page as her. Solar Power is different, though. If fans did not already feel a connection to the relief that Lorde has experienced, they will after listening to the album. The artist has chosen to nurture healing and peace in her own life, and the album’s therapeutic softness may do the same for listeners.