Lorde’s ‘Solar Power’ is a lyrical love letter to her youth

The album is the third instalment of Lorde’s coming-of-age story

Lorde’s third album dropped on Aug. 20.

In her new record, Solar Power, Lorde engulfs herself in a sonic masterpiece with themes of climate change, adulthood, and acknowledging the grandeur of teenage life.

Lorde’s third album was released exclusively to vinyl and streaming services on Aug. 20.  Though the record appeared to be an immediate success as it climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard charts, critics and fans had mixed reactions to the album, which lacks the familiar sound of Lorde’s previous discography.

On Solar Power, Lorde rejects the soundscape and format of the typical radio hit—catchy verses filled with alliteration and memorable phrases followed by a crescendo into a powerful anthemic chorus. She follows her artistic integrity rather than creating music for mass consumption. 

In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, Lorde said “if you’re here for the commercial performance of my work, you’ll only become more disenchanted.”

Solar Power reminds us of Lorde's pure artistic intentions. Lorde refuses to commodify her artwork and instead continues her discography in pursuit of connection through authentic storytelling.

To some critics, Lorde’s Solar Power is foreign compared to her other, melancholic music. But after a close listen and some reflection on her past works, Solar Power appears to be the third instalment of her transformation and coming of age story.

In “Oceanic Feeling,” the record’s final track, the 24-year-old songstress lets go of the staple dark lip colour she adorned throughout the early stages of her career, which is “gathering dust in a drawer.” This pile of dust is a lyrical representation of Lorde saying goodbye to her adolescence—the most prominent theme in Solar Power.

In her debut album, Pure Heroine, listeners are introduced to a Lorde who finds herself full of teenage angst and fear of growing old. In her sophomore album, Melodrama, she explores experiencing the growing pains she once feared. On Solar Power, Lorde tells stories of her teenage life in the public eye as she reflects upon her newfound comfort with adulthood.

In the third track, titled “California,” Lorde reflects on the start of her musical success and how it shaped her. 

“Once upon a time in Hollywood when Carole called my name / I exploded and I knew I’d never be the same,” Lorde sings as she remembers the start of her success after winning Song of the Year at the 2014 Grammys. 

Her Grammy marks the moment she found herself ascending from the constraints of adolescence into adulthood—the central theme of the record. Solar Power is an ode to her fondest teenage memories and successes within her transformative discography.

Those who deeply loved Pure Heroine may have wished for a reimagined version of her melancholic sound because of its beautiful nostalgia. I grew up listening to Lorde and found Pure Heroine to be the soundtrack of my own my life at the very tender age of 14. All of the fears I had at the time were perfectly encapsulated into a 15-track album.

However, experiencing the radiance and wisdom of Solar Power, listeners are reminded of the importance of appreciating our own existential growth. The record is a soundtrack to capturing the essence of transformation.

It urges us all to embrace the current state of our surroundings, while also momentarily reliving memories in the time-capsule of our youth.

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