Lorde's Solar Power: What You Need To Know
After the phenomenal success of a song like ‘Royals’, an out-of-the-gate global hit that launched New Zealand-born singer-songwriter Lorde into the limelight at the age of just 16, the dizzying rise to stardom that followed – not to mention the pressure to repeat that success - might have levelled a lot of artists so young.
Lorde, however, has managed to make it seem almost effortless, building on that early success by delivering another Grammy-nominated album in 2017’s Melodrama, earning acclaim from fans and critics alike even as it sold more modestly than her debut Pure Heroine.
This week Lorde is back with her hotly-anticipated third album, Solar Power, which makes its arrival in stores on Friday (August 2). Here’s everything you need to know…
A little background…
Talk of a follow-up to Melodrama first began surfacing as far back as 2019, when the singer stated on Instagram that a third album was “in the oven”, however the subsequent death of her dog Pearl prompted an announcement that the album would be delayed indefinitely: "When this great loss crystallises inside me, and my chest rebuilds around it, hopefully I'll be able to finish up, and share it with you, and we'll all grow together, as we always do."
The album’s title track finally emerged on June 10 this year (the same day as a solar eclipse), along with confirmation of both a new album and a tour set to begin in February 2022.
This is also the first of Lorde’s albums that will not be released on CD. The singer explained in a June interview with Harper’s Bazaar that she didn’t want to “make something that will end up in landfill”, so instead there’s a carbon-neutral “music box” containing hand-written notes, exclusive photographs and a download card for those without a record player that still want the aesthetic of a physical product.
Who’s producing it?
Most of the album sees Lorde and Bleachers mainman Jack Antonoff credited as co-producers, although the pair have been working remotely during the pandemic, but Frank Ocean’s go-to producer Malay has also stated that he had been working “heavily” with Lorde on her new LP.
Any special guests?
Not in terms of guest performers, no. It’s pretty much just Lorde going it alone on this one.
What does it sound like?
Inspiration for the new album came, Lorde says, both from 70s pop and disco such as the Mamas and the Papas and the Bee Gees, as well as what she has described as the “turn of the century beachside optimism” of artists like Nelly Furtado and Natalie Imbruglia.
As the singles preceding the album had hinted, the songs on Solar Power do lean into a much more mellow, sun-kissed vibe than her first two albums, with acoustic guitars playing a big part of the soundscape. Lorde claims to have used only one drum machine (a classic Roland 808) across the whole album, and it’s certainly minimal, but not as retro-sounding as that might suggest.
That not to say there aren’t grooves, though, particularly on songs such as ‘Mood Ring’, but they’re of a much more laid back variety than you might be used to. Lyrically, she’s as sharp as ever, with a wry humour that shines through on tracks like ‘Stoned in the Nail Salon’ and ‘The Man With an Axe’.
Does it deliver?
If you were expecting another album of danceable bops then you might find yourself a little wrong-footed by the more mellow direction taken on Solar Power at first, but no artist wants to keep making the same record over and and over, and the new album explores different aspects of her sound in a way that feels cohesive and fresh. It might be more of a slow burn, but Solar Power still brings the heat.
Solar Power is available in hmv stores from Friday August 20 - you can also find it here in our online store.