Album Review: Solar Power | Lorde
After a month and many many sessions with Lorde’s Solar Power, I finally broke the code. It hit me this morning and I’m now fully aware of the last time I felt that way as well as the reasons. And so here I am writing about it, processing the feeling while typing.
Now, remember when Florence + The Machine released ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ with ‘What The Water Gave Me’ as the lead single? This was the first time we saw Welch stripped from all the make-up, striking lipstick and fire-red hair. Stripped from all the glitter, glamour and seductive darkness she was carrying in ‘Ceremonials’ and ‘Lungs’. We even witnessed Welch’s naked body in the most artistic, cinematic way in this emotional universe she created through her series of music videos. Her music was just as organic plus a lot less dramatic for the first time though deeply powerful and lyrically poetic. That’s exactly the case with Lorde!
After the intense beats and raw vocals of her debut, after the drama and darkness of Melodrama, Lorde put on her bathing suit and went out to enjoy the sun. Now we are sure she’s not the vampire she looked like through her Pure Heroine era. Lorde’s leaving her electronic vibe behind, embracing guitars while she is harmonizing the hell out of her voice and especially her lower range. She’s brighter, lighter and more angelic than ever.
'The Path' opens with a Lana Del Rey type of arrangement, mysterious and nostalgic and it is all blowing up gently into this sunshiny, positive chorus which reminds me of the good old ‘Folklore’ and ‘Whoa Nelly!’ days of Nelly Furtado, when pop was still green and innocent. Do I sound old yet? Now, the controversial, homonymous ‘Solar Power’ could indeed be inspired by George Michael but let’s be honest. Everyone’s making music for centuries now. Songs inevitably sound like other songs. It’s simple math. ‘Solar Power’ is a tribute to the sun and a good representation of the mood of the whole album so a well-thought choice for a lead single. In ‘Don’t want that California Love’ Lorde is whistling about leaving behind a rich, demanding way of life in order to once again enjoy the sun and a simpler way of living with her friends. The guitar is getting sad and moody in ‘Stoned At The Nail Salon’, a deeply melancholic track, lyrically abstract as many Lorde signature tracks. Moving on to the magical harmonizing of ‘Fallen Fruit’ which, together with the climaxing instrumental, takes this one to the very top of my favourites. It’s the right amount of sadness: ‘But how can I love what I know I am gonna lose?’ combined with a melody that gets built up by the minute. In my opinion, this first part of Solar Power is the most impactful or ‘single material’ batch let’s say. ‘Secrets From A Girl’ has this mischievous, playful character, blinking to the listener, closing this mainstream load of songs.
Now, into the second part (I personally declare it a second part) we have a series of more downtempo tracks that feel like jamming with friends on a cloudy -or not- day during a weekend. Not powerful enough to stand out but peaceful enough to complete the attitude of this album. ‘The Man With The Axe’, ‘Big Star’ and ‘Leader of A New Regime’ have this exact character. Here we also get ‘Dominoes’ and ‘Mood Ring’ to wake us up during this mellow experimentation, with the second one being among the most addictive tracks in the album if you ask me. Solar Power closes with the 7 minute long ‘Oceanic Feeling’. Flowing and changing in a super free manner, there are no boundaries and pop standards here. Isn’t that what Solar Power is all about after all? Lorde is celebrating freedom, transformation and embracing all sides of 'You'. Maybe you could even skip this one, but if you enjoy this album for the overall peace it offers you and not for the glorious Lorde you’d like to hear, you’ll enjoy ‘Oceanic Feeling’ as much as the whole second part of the LP.
Sooo. Big surprise right? Is this the new Lorde? Don’t think so. It’s just the bright side of Lorde, revealed for the very first time. A real shocker at first but let’s not rush to put labels here. Music is music and artists are allowed to express themselves however they feel like. Otherwise they’d be machines serving us. Thankfully Lorde is far from that. I’m speaking for almost everyone here when I say I missed the sound I know but I’d be a liar if I said I did not enjoy this album. At least half of it is a newly-discovered pleasure to dive into and something to keep us waiting for what the future holds. Since we saw that from Lorde, we are pretty much expecting anything from this point!
Let’s just enjoy all the harmonizing, the strings and the laid-back sound brought to the table until next time! A big bravo for Lorde’s self-awareness, new state of mind and fearlessness to break her own mold.