Lorde discovers bright new sound in “Solar Power”

After a four-year hiatus, New Zealand singer-songwriter Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, more commonly known as Lorde, has returned with her new album, “Solar Power.” The 12-track album was released on Aug. 20, with three singles off the album released on June 11, July 22 and Aug. 18. 

This June, one of my friends introduced me to Lorde’s second album, “Melodrama,” and I’ve listened to it almost every day since I first heard it. In the past three months, “Melodrama” has become my default music for any activity. This slowly evolved into a general fondness toward Lorde, including her 2013 album, “Pure Heroine.” When I heard about the upcoming release of “Solar Power,” I had high hopes for what was to come. 

The first single released off the album, “Solar Power,” presents a new sound featuring an emphasis on Lorde’s high range of voice and an acoustic guitar. This track in particular has a lively and upbeat feel, which strays from Lorde’s more commonly melancholic pieces, as seen in “Pure Heroine” and “Melodrama.” After hearing the first single, it was clear Lorde was taking her sound in a new direction; this light, acoustic sound is something that can be seen through the entirety of the album and makes “Solar Power” stand out from Lorde’s previous music. 

The songs on “Solar Power” focus heavily on Lorde’s rise to fame while young. The first track, “The Path,” relishes in Lorde trying to find her way through life, navigating her way through the spotlight. Although the instrumentals are vibrant, her lyrics continue to have deep, personal meaning, such as “Teen millionaire having nightmares from the camera flash.” Similar thoughts of grappling with her fame can be seen on the third track, “California,” where Lorde sings about her experiences in California as a celebrity. 

My personal favorite track is a tie between “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)” and “Leader of a New Regime.” The chords built from Lorde’s vocals in “Leader of a New Regime” give me literal goosebumps when I listen to it. As a band student, I hear chords on a daily basis, but a specific pitch and intonation are needed to have a chord with such resonance and beauty. This is something that Lorde successfully accomplishes, especially in “Leader of a New Regime,” and it’s something I can’t get enough of. 

In addition to the strength of the vocals, the backstory behind “Leader of a New Regime” shares some of Lorde’s concerns about climate change—a topic I’m particularly passionate about. The combination of pure vocal talent and the intense storyline is what makes me a huge fan of this specific track. 

Photo via Lorde

On the other hand, I like “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)” because of its cheeky, lighthearted beat. The lyrics are another element that make it one of my favorites. Lorde sings as if she’s giving advice, as the ‘girl who’s seen it all.’ The song finishes with someone talking as if they were announcing information over an airport PA system. Although this is something small, it was a great way to finish out the piece and is something I found unique. 

Lorde’s transparency within her songs is one thing that makes her music so powerful. Every piece she produces holds significance and meaning, which seems to be less common among mainstream music. Despite Lorde being an “untraditional” pop artist, her work still manages to reach the hearts of many—myself included. 

As a self-proclaimed hardcore Lorde fan, I was blown away by this album. Lorde presented her voice in a new light, and the execution was spot on. Although she sounds slightly different, the significant weight and quality of her songwriting is something that has remained consistent throughout her albums. As much as I enjoyed “Solar Power,” I would still classify “Melodrama” as my favorite Lorde album. With that being said, Lorde is a seemingly timeless artist whose music will resonate with many—whether it be at the tennis courts or the Louvre. Overall, this is an album that I would recommend to anybody. With Lorde’s breakthrough into more upbeat and acoustic songs, there’s something for everybody, and her stories are ones worth listening to.