‘Solar Power’: a breath of fresh air

September 10, 2021 — by Kavita Sundaram

I hate the winter, and I can’t stand the cold. Apparently Lorde feels the same way. 

When “Solar Power,” the first single from Lorde’s latest album, dropped on June 10, I knew the album would be the perfect way to end the summer. 

After four long years of silence, Lorde came through with another revelation of an album: “Solar Power,” which was fully released on Aug. 20. With 12 songs, two bonus tracks, and a style reminiscent of an extravagant, isolated beach vacation, the album captures the essence of a New Zealand summer. 

The album opens with “The Path,a nostalgic, mellow track. Through a metaphorical “path” from the sun, Lorde emphasizes her desire to find clarity. The layered vocals and minor key rifs help to build the ominous tone of the song and emphasize the uncertainty that the singer feels throughout her journey to wellbeing and happiness. 

Like many songs in the album, “The Path” tells a story about a character that Lorde creates. This character embodies a mockery of modern day “wellness culture” and the superficial practices that it entails. Songs like “California” and “Mood Ring” tell similar stories, touching on topics like spirituality and astrology. 

Along with the social commentary that Lorde weaves seamlessly into her music, the track list is riveting, regardless of the meaning behind the songs. Listening to the album in order is like watching a sunrise, beginning with upbeat but calming instrumentals and ending with slower, more dramatic songs.  

The airy, summery tone is one of many things that sets this album apart from Lorde’s prior albums. While Lorde is popularly known for her gut-wrenching heart-break anthems, “Solar Power” has a different vibe that features optimistic songs about the future — the vocals are gentle and playful, and the music brings a sense of tranquility. 

While many critics haven’t taken well to this change of pace, with The Guardian saying that some songs sound “undernourished,” Lorde’s new style only proves that she can be multi-faceted, and that she has scores (pun intended) of diverse music waiting to come in the future. 

All of Lorde’s tactics contribute to the effectiveness of “Solar Power,” which can transform any gloomy day into the perfect summer morning. I plan on listening to the album throughout all of fall and winter as well, so if you ever hear it blasting in the parking lot, feel free to come join me for some highly beneficial carpool karaoke.

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