A Piece Presented by T-Rod:
“If you’re looking for a savior, well that’s not me”
For a while that line on “The Path”, the opener on Lorde’s Solar Power struck a chord with me. The 2021 record from the New Zealand singer is in many ways her best and worst. It’s a masterclass in cohesion, themes, and vibes, but for some its songwriting lacks the gravity and urgency that her two previous albums provided…
So why do I return to it more than any of her other albums? For me, Lorde is an artist that is, above all, human. Her first two records looked at the downsides of being human. I think Solar Power is Lorde looking at the upsides, acknowledging the moments of bliss that can come if you let them in. It’s an essential listen when you’re trying to rediscover those upsides.
Musically, I’d say Solar Power is like apple juice: it’s extremely sweet and even if you’re still thirsty after finishing it, damn does it hit. The aforementioned “The Path” is musical sunlight, its first half accompanied by light strums and harmonies before drums crash in and give the song a beautiful groove. The title track does the same thing, but combines the final groove with proclamations of loving the summer season and the “solar power” that gives you the energy to finally meet with loved ones.
That nature-centric songwriting is something that Lorde fully embraces on Solar Power, making it an ideal album for this season. Hearing the calming hymns of peace on the relaxed “Oceanic Feeling” or reading the elemental imagery on “The Man with the Axe” shows the clear love for the outdoors Lorde has, but it’s more than that. It’s a springboard to the state of peace one can feel when surrounded by their natural environment. For Lorde, it’s being away from the fame heaped upon her on “California”, closer to her natural element of simplicity and natural living on “Fallen Fruit”. If that doesn’t speak volumes to those looking for escape from the hustle and bustle of modern living, I don’t know what will.
Is Solar Power perfect? No. I think it lacks in areas that can make the songwriting or production more punchy; the most catchy bop here is “Mood Ring,” and that track is shoulder to shoulder with the closer. However I think there’s power in how meditative and relaxed this album is: it gives Lorde time to tackle her pain head on and come out on top rather than let it swallow her whole. The central track to embody this for me is “Secrets From a Girl”; Lorde acknowledges that everyone can feel sadness, but once you face it it becomes bearable. For some it may seem outlandish that enjoying the outdoors makes this possible, but everyone has their own niche of happiness at the end of the day. Your peace, my peace, it all means different things to us: what matters is that we find that place that lets us enjoy it.
Give Solar Power a listen this summer, especially if you’re on a beach or a hike. I think it’ll hit differently then.
Writer’s Loose Thoughts:
I’ve been trying to rediscover my creative juices and find a new way to write. I think this shorter format may be the solution. Writing gives me a joy that I can’t fully explain, so if you have any suggestions for improvement or any thoughts, feel free to reach out. Also I will admit I didn’t like this album once upon a time, but its grown on me year after year. That is the greatest feeling ever!