Lorde emerges from the dark to the sun in new album, ‘Solar Power,’ but should she retreat?

This Sunday, Lorde released her third studio album, a sun-inspired folk medley titled, “Solar Power.”


‘Solar Power’ Album Cover

Maddie Johnston, Arts Editor

The mystical, gothic Lorde we met seven years ago came back this weekend from her four year Antarctica hiatus in a bright yellow dress, prancing along a beach, in her new album, Solar Power — and this is not the Lorde we used to know.

This is happy Lorde. This is Lorde with self control. This is, dare I say, boring Lorde?

On Lorde’s 2017 album Melodrama, listeners found themselves in the midst of one large house party — it was maximalist, hedonistic, self-possessed — every moment was a sonic climax with its weird and wonderful synths and nuanced lyrics.

The new album lies in full contradiction to that Lorde, both thematically and sonically. Her new sound begs you to lay on the beach, it begs you to wander through the forest and forget your bearings, to sit back and soak in its sunny acoustics and leisurely drum beats.

But the album’s goals are acquiring mixed results.

The glamorization of “the simple life”— long days at the beach, gardening our lush country home gardens, drinking only two drinks with friends, then going home — might work if it weren’t for its good lyrics being watered down by Christian-rock style acoustics and overall melodic monotony.

This regression from high-intensity pop music has become common among several of our most loved female musicians.

The album was produced by Jack Antonoff, a man whose name has become synonymous with big names like Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, St. Vincent, and Clairo, who have all produced their most recent records under his supervision.

Each has undergone a movement away from the high-energy, radio-pop music that earned them their fame to minimalistic, slow songs with lyrics that glamorize domesticity and, you guessed it, nature.

I’m all about a back-to-the-land movement, but I also want to dance.

The folksy album consists of 12 brand new songs, each nearly indistinguishable upon first listen. The opening track, The Path, acquaints listeners with the same tempo and whispery tone as the album’s next five songs.

In Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen It All), Lorde takes a sort of older sister stance where she offers advice to young girls.

“’Member what you thought was grief before you got the call?

Baby girl, no one’s gonna feel the pain for you

You’re gonna love again, so just try staying open

And when the time comes, you’ll fall

Yeah, when the time comes, you’ll fall.”

It didn’t come off in the clever and cunning way that characterized her previous work. Nor did Mood Ring, a song about wellness fads, offering again, platitudinal lyrics. Back in June when Lorde released the album’s title track, Solar Power, fans criticized it for sounding like it came out of a tampon commercial. It’s a sad, but accurate analogy for the greater part of the album.

However, the earnestness in lyrics that Lorde fans came to love made a return on Big Star, Oceanic Feeling, and Stoned at the Nail Salon. All offered cuttingly honest lyrics and greater musical depth than the others.

The curb on instrumentation also allowed her vocals to shine in ways they never have on previous albums.

Corniness and cringy-ness aside, we’re all happy Lorde has found peace and is introducing us to her brighter, more wholesome new self. The album pales in comparison to its predecessor, Melodrama, but with each listen the songs grow more distinct and the lyrics more compelling. Did I need an album about her four year vacation? Probably not, but I’ll take what I can get from our goth-turned-goddess musical queen.