Album review: Lorde’s latest triumph

Brooke J. Freundschuh, Managing Editor

“Solar Power,” the third studio album by alternative pop artist Ella Yelich- O’Connor, who is known to the world by her stage name Lorde, was released on Aug 20.

Lorde’s previous albums discuss the woes of growing up, feeling isolated, first experiences and broken hearts, but now, at age 24, she has grown beautifully into her skin, penning self-aware tracks that admire the beauty of natural, simple wonders in this life. “Solar Power” arrives just on time, shining its rays of light around the silver linings of the cloud the world has been under for the last year and a half.

“Born in the year of OxyContin” is perhaps the most intriguing opening line to a record that I’ve heard in a long time. Referencing the events that plagued her childhood, Lorde takes us into a world that still feels cloud-covered and dark. She discusses finding fame and feeling like an outcast. Although it may not catch everyone’s ear, the lines “arm in a cast at the museum gala/fork in my purse to take home to my mother,” brilliantly speak for themselves.

Her lead single and title track “Solar Power” feels like a refreshing dip into the water and could easily serve as the theme for the annual Indian summer experience in Alabama. Maybe I’m secretly stubborn and refuse to admit I love radio singles over the deep cuts, but this one took me a while to catch on to. Yet, after repeated listens, I have become the first one to excitedly yell, “blink three times when you feel it kicking in!”

Many musicians have written about the state of California, but I don’t know if I’ve found a tale more genuine since Joni Mitchell called out 55 years ago. As a foreigner, Lorde is quick to point out both the captivating warmth and cracking superficiality of the culture of a place that is more of a legend than a home to most.

I never thought my favorite song at age 20 would be named “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” but here I am. From the first listen, this song had me in my deep feelings. Change has always been the most difficult part of life for me, and this song makes my heart cry and feel hopeful all at once. It feels like the cowboy riding off into the sunset at the end of an old film. It captures an emotion in me that I didn’t know I had, but maybe I’m just stoned at the nail salon.

A track about the loss of innocence never sounded so sweet as “Fallen Fruit.” I melt into the instrumentals every single time, and I’m in love with the change ofpace that follows. The first five tracks on this record are flawless.

“Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)” captures everything lovable about early 2000s pop music with its sound and captures everything loveable about growing up in its lyrics. “Everybody wants the
best for you, but you’ve gotta want it for yourself, my love,” Lorde sings, adding piercing lines like “remember what you thought was grief before you got the call?”

“The Man with the Axe” is, as she proclaims in the final line, a love song about someone who grounds her, and the short, but honest “Dominoes” tells of someone who can never settle long enough to unpack their emotional baggage.

“Big Star,” although appearing to be another journal from Los Angeles, is reportedly about Lorde’s dog, Pearl, who passed away in 2019. Lorde follows in the line led by Paul McCartney of singers who write love songs to their pets.

“Leader of a New Regime” takes me back to the film scene of the cowboy and the sunset, and “Mood Ring” shows Lorde (somewhat sarcastically) using new age methods ods, like sage and crystals, to try to keep herself from dissociating.

The closer, “Oceanic Feeling,” is reflective and prophetic. It allows wonder and hope to flow as wildly as the ocean she sings about. Lorde finds the paradise shewas looking for in the previous song, and soaks it in with the sunlight. She discusses her family and how allowing time for relaxation has saved her sanity. She even fantasizes about what her daughter will be like, if she ever has one, wondering if the same insecurities that plague her or her best youthful qualities will be inherited.

The beautiful outroduction leads perfectly back into the introductory song, welcoming you back to soak in the sun and experience the journey all over again.

If Stevie Nicks is a sister of the moon, Lorde is the daughter of the sun.

“Solar Power” is a snapshot of the time we are living in, and Lorde continues to grow with grace, becoming more poetically brilliant every year.