Solar Power embraces blissful, sun-soaked escape

%22Solar+Power%22+deluxe+album+cover

“Solar Power” deluxe album cover

Aidan Johnson

“Solar Power,” the highly anticipated third studio album from New Zealand singer Lorde, embraces self-discovery amidst isolation. Coming off the heels of a four-year hiatus from the music industry, Lorde returns to the scene with an album that is both ethereal and somber, reflecting on the ups and downs of life.

I decided that the best way to review this album would be to rank each track, from my least favorite to my most favorite. With that being said, all of the tracks on the album are incredible and worth listening to. 

Big Star

This track, while the lowest in my ranking, still stands well with the rest of the album. It reflects on the passing of Lorde’s dog Pearl. This song perfectly captures the loss of a loved one and is a truly beautiful track. 

Solar Power

The lead single and title track “Solar Power” immediately establishes this album as a departure from the sounds of Lorde’s previous works. “Solar Power” embraces relaxation and sunshine, taking a step back from the chaos of daily life. As the lead single from the album, “Solar Power” accomplishes what it sets out to do, and stands alone as a solid entry to Lorne’s discography. Comparatively to the rest of the album, however, “Solar Power” falls a little short. 

The Path

The album opens with “The Path,” a song that expresses Lorde’s desire not to be seen as a role model, but as a muse, when she sings, “Your savior is not me.” This track sets the tone for the album, with upbeat, cheerful vocals that are paired with somber lyrics. 

Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)

“Secrets from a Girl” is one of the more upbeat tracks on the album, reflecting on Lorde’s perspectives on the world as she has grown. She sings, “… Couldn’t wait to turn fifteen. Then you blink and it’s been ten years,” a line that stands out for its relatability. 

Dominoes 

“Dominoes” is sweet, simple, and perhaps the most fun track on the album. While this track lacks the usual depth found in a Lorde song, it showcases that not every song has to be deep to be an enjoyable experience. The way that Lorde sings with sharp, short, and sweet notes makes this track stand out. Its best line, “Fifty gleaming chances in a row, and I watch you flick them down like dominoes,” while not an upbeat line by any means, is executed in a way that makes this track the most fun of all the tracks on the album.

Mood Ring

“Mood Ring” is a compelling track, and, as expressed by Lorde in several interviews, is satire. It reflects on modern society’s tendency to embrace “crystal culture,” which essentially revolves around simplified holistic rituals of comfort such as sun salutations, a yoga position, and healing crystals. She also alludes that these simplified rituals appropriate indigenous culture, despite their seemingly innocent intentions. This track tells an unusual story about using crystal culture as a form of escapism in a captivating and well-thought-out way.

Hold No Grudge

The final track on the deluxe album, “Hold No Grudge” is an excellent album closer about letting go after a relationship ends. It has a very beautiful, distinct sound, and has one of the prettiest messages of all of Lorde’s songs.

Oceanic Feeling

This track grew on me the most out of any on the album. Originally, I wasn’t very fond of the song, due to its daunting six-and-a-half-minute run time. After listening to it more and more, this track, which is about Lorde’s love for her brother, became one of my favorite songs from the album. It sounds experimental and goes many different places in its long runtime, showcasing Lorde’s versatility as an artist flawlessly.

The Man with the Axe

This track is another high point of the album and sounds reminiscent of a log cabin in the woods. It starts slowly, providing a sense of comfort, and then subverts those expectations, ramping up towards the latter half of the song. This progression is common in Lorde’s songs, and is masterfully executed in “The Man with the Axe.” It also demonstrates Lorde’s range as an artist, partnering some of the lowest notes on the album with the highest, which makes for a track with much depth.

California

The album’s third track, “California,” continues the themes expressed in “The Path,” making for a standout track. In “California,” Lorde sings about the conflicts between her normal life and fame, referencing Carole King, the woman who called her name at the Grammy’s in 2014. She sings, “Once upon a time in Hollywood when Carole called my name,” and then proceeds to tell the story about how her life changed from that moment. California is a beautiful song, both lyrically and sonically, embracing the falsetto in its gloomy chorus when Lorde sings, “Don’t want that California love.” Overall, this track differentiates itself from the others as a thesis statement of sorts for the album; Lorde is trying to isolate herself from fame as a normal person, and these two branching paths make her who she is.

Leader of a New Regime

“Leader of a New Regime” is the shortest track of the album, but is an unmistakable high point. It is short, sweet, and poignant, expressing Lorde’s desires to escape from fame. She sings, “Won’t somebody, anybody, be the leader of a new regime? Free the keepers from the burned-out scene,” a line that reflects Lorde’s feelings on the music industry and her desires for change within it.

Helen of Troy

This bonus track provides an excellent allusion to Greek mythology. Its best line, “This city’s falling for me just like I’m Helen of Troy,” references the story of the Trojan War, in which the city of Troy did eventually fall as a result of a single woman, Helen. “Helen of Troy” is strong both lyrically and sonically, showcasing Lorde’s confidence in herself, and is a song that emanates female empowerment.

Stoned at the Nail Salon

Strange title aside, this track is ultimately my second favorite on the album. It continues the trajectory of “California,” opening with an extended metaphor, “Got a wishbone drying on the windowsill in my kitchen.” This “wishbone” allegedly represents the branching paths between Lorde’s normal life and fame, which she proceeds to sing about for the duration of the song. This track particularly stands out for its ability to highlight just how much joy and meaning one can get from life, as Lorde sings about the simple things that make her happy, such as her home in New Zealand and her dog Pearl. 

Fallen Fruit

Slightly edging out “Nail Salon” as my favorite track on the album, “Fallen Fruit” is an enchanting mixture of harmonies that showcase the best extent of Lorde’s vocals on “Solar Power,” making for a chillingly beautiful track. “Fallen Fruit” is one of the best songs in Lorde’s discography, and is my favorite track on “Solar Power.”