Lorde can be described numerous ways, but sunny and bright are usually not at the top of the list. Words that usually come to mind are: artist, somber, regret, vulnerable and amazing. She continues to be an amazing artist, but Solar Power shows us Lorde’s brighter side as she puts down the red wine for sun tan lotion and beach towels.
It is telling that this is her first release since her breathtaking record Melodrama in 2017. In a lot of ways, this is Lorde’s direct response to that record. You can see it in the cover art where she moves from an impressionist painting of her laying in bed to a flirty picture of her running through the sun with no pants on. There is a freedom at play as Lorde runs naked in the open air and sea. Even though this is a side of Lorde we have not seen before, there are some telltale Lorde touches on this track.
Lyrically, Lorde casts herself as a human solar panel. She sings about soaking up the sun and using that energy to fuel a blissful connection to life and nature. Throughout her career Lorde has always opened herself up to the listener in a highly personal and vulnerable way. Tracks like Liability, Royals and Green Light gave you insight into her self – doubt, emotional pain and identity. Interestingly, she does the same in Solar Power when she sings about being literally naked: “No shirt, no shoes, only my features.” Much like her previous work, Lorde is exposing herself for everyone to see, but in this case it is to reveal joy as opposed to pain. The sun is cleansing her of the pain she wrote about in previous alums and leaving room for new growth.
Musically, she channels her inner George Michael. The song structure in both the early verses and the final block resembles Michael’s biggest hits Faith and Freedom. You can definitely hear Faith in the early verses and the final block is almost an unplugged cover of the chorus in Freedom. I find this extremely interesting on a thematic level. During the entire track you think of faith and freedom, which works thematically as Lorde sings about breaking free of the winter and that cold state of mind.
I don’t think it is coincidence that she is channeling these two tracks directly and those titles reinforce central themes within the track. And when the track opens up in that Freedom inspired final block…you want to get naked and run right along with her on beach. Like most of Michael’s work, that final section in Solar Power has an epic quality to it and just radiates positive energy. You can feel the sun warming your body as you hear the waves crash on the beach. The final 30 – 40 seconds of this track really brings it together.
This is an interesting new path for Lorde and one that firmly plants her in pop music. Themes of rebirth, growth, nature, warmth and freedom run throughout the track; “Forget all the tears that you’ve cried…It’s a new state of mind.” Now, I think that there still will be some fragile tracks about emotional pain on her new record, but it is exciting to see Lorde expand her sound. I think Lorde is a true artist and one of my favourite singer / songwriters out there. So, have a listen…bask in the sun…and get excited for the new album. Just remember to bring sun screen and a towel.
Listen to Solar Power