Michaelson: Can Lorde kick it? Yeah, she can.

After five long years, Lorde returns to the music scene, and her new album “Solar Power” is HOTTER than the sun.

by Gavin Michaelson

I’ve been a fan of Lorde since the second I heard her single “Royals” on the radio for the first time. Something about her freshman album “Pure Heroine” just drew me in more than any album had before. Maybe it was the teenage hormones, or just the fact that every song on that album is pop-perfection to this day, but “Pure Heroine” really resonated with me. However, it was her second album, “Melodrama” that truly absorbed me. “Melodrama” secured my belief that Lorde is truly one of the best artists of this generation and could create musical masterpieces one after another. Never before had I listened to an album that told such a cohesive and beautifully devastating story within 12 tracks. After five years of anticipation building for Lorde’s junior album, I finally knew it was coming when I saw her on the performer’s list for Primavera Sound 2022. What had felt like a lifetime of waiting had finally ended, and I was ready for Lorde to shatter my heart into a million pieces once again.

When her first single, “Solar Power” dropped on June 11, I was overwhelmed with joy. My favorite artist was finally making her official return. However, I was not expecting THIS. I was ready to hop right back into my “sad girl” era, and bawl my eyes out to another lyrical stab to the heart that was just a little too relatable. That was not what she delivered. This song felt… happy? Was I supposed to be happy now? Lorde is supposed to tells me how to feel, so I guess I am happy now. The music video told a completely different story from her previous work, with a clear message about climate change and humanity’s impact on this once beautiful world. The video, in my mind, also resembled a very “cult-like” image. While this is arguably one of my least favorite songs on the album, I will say that this song and music video was the perfect way to reveal the theme of “Solar Power”.

The next two singles, “Stoned at the Nail Salon” and “Mood Ring” did not disappoint. “Stoned at the Nail Salon” scratched that sad spot with a relatable reflection on her teen years. She completely reeled me in with lyrics revolving around her existential dilemma of getting older. “Mood Ring” on the other hand was a completely different experience. The lyrics were completely satirical and discussed the trend of this generation’s sense of pseudo-spirituality and pseudo-wellness and appropriation of many indigenous and eastern practices. This song did muster up some controversy because of the subtlety surrounding the appropriation within the song, leaving fans wondering whether this is truly satire or an offensive impersonation of a character.

I stayed up all night, excitedly waiting for the album to be released in the United States and truly analyze the album as a whole. Upon my first listen, I realized the concept behind the album as a whole was very clear: climate change. The world is dying and as a result, we are too. The album contains an extensive amount of self-reflection, and subtle jabs at past generations for killing this planet with their pollutive tendencies and disregard for maintaining the state of the earth (and in a sense, their children), all for wealth and material goods has led to the destruction of our planet. One song in particular that truly captured this energy was “Fallen Fruit”. In my opinion, this is one of the most meaningful songs on the album.

As a result of the state of the earth that our parents have left us to live in, Lorde asks: “Do you know what you’ve done? How could you have left us with this?”. Due to the growth of capitalism and industrialization, many ecosystems have been completely killed off, and it seems as though all of our generation’s dreams are meaningless because it’s very unlikely that the majority of us will live long enough to fulfill them because of the irreparable damage they have caused.

Despite what the critics have said about this album, with Pitchfork rating “Solar Power” a 6.8, as opposed to “Pure Heroine” being ranked 7.3 and “Melodrama” being ranked 8.8, this album is easily one of my favorite albums of the year. I appreciate the laid-back production, the beautiful lyricism discussing her fear of growing older and what the future of the world holds for our generation, if anything at all. I feel that the reason this album has received such criticism is due to the fact it had a lot to live up to following the masterpiece that is “Melodrama,” especially after Lorde’s five-year hiatus. While I was not disappointed with this album in the slightest, I do believe that it will be hard to ever come close to topping “Melodrama.”