Ophelia Mikkelson Jones
When I was twelve years old, my love for Lorde’s music blossomed. She became a soundtrack to Subaru rides and the synergy of a strawberry field. Her words and cadences became as familiar as the back of my hand, and her songs supported my middle school triumphs and trauma. After waiting in a four-year-long lull, Lorde has finally released her third studio album titled Solar Power.
Just as the name indicates, Solar Power is a blissful and sunny summer feeling based on Lorde’s upbringing in New Zealand, mimicking the summers she experienced. Along with emphasizing climate change and alluding to somewhat surrealistic consequences, she bounds her past to her future creating entirely fresh sounds and strums as compared to her previous albums. Solar Power has much more of an acoustic, ethereal, transcendent energy, while Pure Heroine and Melodrama—her debut and sophomore albums—include more edgy, rich, and synth sounds. Nevertheless, I adore it just as much. I relish the difference of these sounds paired with the on-brand effervescent and melancholic lyrics.
To introduce the golden essence of the album, the song titled “The Path” is the first on the tracklist. This song is about devotion to nature and reverence for its answers instead of looking to famous figures in our societies for resolution. This is one of my favorites of the album as the rhythms are very smooth and harmonized with combinations of earnestly and pop. The beginning of the song is much more vocal-based and slower as it builds to the catchy chorus.
“Let’s hope the sun will show us the path.”
This snippet of the song personifies the guidance of nature to help better understand what direction needs to be heeded in both personal and general matters.
The second song of the album is the single “Solar Power,” which continues on the theme and storyline throughout the tracks. This song was released in mid June and lived up to its greatest potential for my summer enterprises. I would listen to this song while laying out in the sun absorbing the intense UV rays, painting, or at four in the morning when sleep just didn’t want to be an option for me. The setting this song takes place in is on an elusive island engulfed by wind, waves, and a community of people who live and breathe the sunshine.
“Acid green, aquamarine, the girls are dancing in the sand. And I throw my cellular device in the water, can you reach me? No, you can’t.”
This verse implies that this hypothetical island is a place of total disconnection to modern reality and serves as a perfect descriptor of the overall vibe and surroundings of this community—who wouldn’t want to live there?
What I think is the zenith of this album is my absolute favorite song. “The Man with the Axe”—I can never get enough of it. It is even considered to be the most melancholic feature of the album. It is quite unusual for me to fall in love with such a song, but I guess that just proves that it has completed its purpose. Its poetic themes of affection rinse my mind clean of turmoil and allow for me to sink into the somberness.
“You felled me clean as a pine. The man with the axe and the look in his eyes.”
This lyric is a reconciliation of the saunters of the previous verses to an enchantingly winsome melody as the song fades out.
One of the most astute songs on the album is titled “Leader of a New Regime.” Taking place in a setting of an inhabitable environment, this song is an interlude about a future of collapsed society yearning for providential care.
“Wearing SPF 3000 for the ultraviolet rays. Made it to the island on the last of the outbound planes.”
Although this lyric might seem somewhat of an over-exaggeration, it is not completely outside the realms of possibility. The Earth is rapidly dilapidating from the current climate crisis, so our wherewithal as human beings is limited. This song makes me tune into my existential dread just a little bit, but I appreciate the perspective it sheds light on. Plus, it sounds pretty darn good.
The culmination of the album is the track “Oceanic Feeling.” This song is sort of a personal narrative mixed with hyperopic foresight. Lorde talks about her family members, her conceivable future, and the old personas she has left behind. With the six-minute, slow-burn structure, the cicada hymns featured in the background make for a warm familiarity of summer. From what I have observed, this song definitely airs on the more peaceful and soft side that usually strays away from Lorde’s style, and I am entirely here for it.
“Now the cherry-black lipstick’s gathering dust in a drawer, I don’t need her anymore, ’cause I got this power.”
This one lyric of “Oceanic Feeling” shows how she has grown from her former habits and styles, in terms of both musical and personal ways of expression. 2013 Lorde used to dress in dark, almost goth-like attire, and primarily sang about solemn topics and themes. Over the passing years, she has seemingly embraced a more colorful perspective and lives in a brighter world. As a fan, I do not necessarily have the right to insert myself into analyzing how she chooses to present herself to the world, but I do love to see her “turn it on in a new kind of bright,” as she sings in “Solar Power.”
From being a naive twelve-year-old to a still somewhat naive seventeen-year-old, I have loved every second of growing up with Lorde’s music. Experiencing her music evolution is something beautiful to watch unfold, and quite honestly, it is a comforting experience to relate to in some degree. I don’t mean to go full-on fangirl about Lorde, because, in the end, we are all imperfect beings living on the same planet, but feeling this excitement for her music and her accomplishments is something that is nearly unmatched in my world.
From my days of dark maroons and grays to moments of luminescent yellows and turquoise, I know that Lorde’s melodies will always be present for my status quo. Solar Power has given flavor to my summer and to upcoming seasons and has invited new visions to my bedroom as Lorde’s poster rests lively on my wall. And for the time being, I am just going to live out the rest of the August and September days observing the lush natural world that surrounds me as every song from Solar Power cradles both the world’s and my personal changes.