AOTY 2021
Lorde - Solar Power
Aug 20, 2021 (updated Aug 21, 2021)

So… This is Lorde’s long-awaited third album. Here, her never disappointing poetry is heavily pulled down by an unoriginal and boring production, and her flat vocals. Without even being compared to ‘Melodrama’, ‘Solar Power’ is one of my biggest disappointments of the year.

Let’s begin with the best of the album: Lorde’s lyrics. Connections between the tracks and with previous records are very interesting details that here are more exploited than ever, even the album concept, ‘sun and beaches and maturity’ seems to be connected to ‘Melodrama’. In ‘Liability’, she sings ‘you’re all gonna watch me disappear into the sun’, and in the title track’s music video she seems to personify the sun. Here are some references to her previous records:

I got a memory of waiting in your bed wearing only my earrings
Two former hell-raisers – ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’

I think this references ‘blow all my friendships to sit in hell with you’, from ‘The Louvre’.

Crying in the dark at your best friend’s party
You’ve had enough, gotta turn the lights up, go home – ‘Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All)’

This clearly references ‘lights are on, and they’ve gone home, but who am I?’, from ‘Sober II’.

But every perfect summer’s gotta say goodnight – ‘Big Star’

Do I even have to say what this line is referencing?

Now the cherry-black lipstick’s gathering dust in a drawer
I don’t need her anymore
‘Cause I got this power – ‘Oceanic Feeling’

She talks about the lipstick she used to wear during her ‘Pure Heroine’ era.

Well, enough references for today. Now, her poetry here is nostalgic, introspective, and existential; in a word: quotable. Some quotes here:

Teen millionaire having nightmares from the camera flash – ‘The Path’

Is there a better, more poetic description of what being famous at the age of sixteen feels like?

Once upon a time in Hollywood
When Carol said my name
I stood up, the room exploded, and I
Knew that’s it, I’ll never be the same – ‘California’

These lines talk about how she felt when she won her first Grammy, back in 2014. And I love it.

Then we have the best song of this album:

We had no idea the dreams we had were far too big

Through the halls of splendor where the apple trees all grew
You’ll leave us dancing on the fallen fruit

From the Nissan to the Phantom, to the plane
We’ll disappear in the cover of the rain – ‘Fallen Fruit’

And, finally, the very satirical:

Ladies, begin your sun salutations
Transcendental in our meditations
You can burn sage, and I’ll cleanse the crystals
We can get high but only if the wind blows – ‘Mood Ring’

But, as much as Lorde’s poetry here is, as always, outstanding, nothing can save this album from being a huge disappointment. You might enjoy it if you haven’t ever listened to ‘Melodrama’ or any of the albums Jack Antonoff has produced in the last few years. The production itself is not bad, I mean, it’s Lorde and Antonoff, it’s impossible that they make something unlistenable, but ‘Solar Power’ is incredibly frustrating: it made me cry, but not how it was supposed to. Most songs have the same structure: Lorde’s voice kicks in without any intro, the song sounds flat until it comes a lush outro that slowly fades away and the song ends. The instrumentation is the same in almost the whole record, to the point that some parts of the title track could perfectly fit into most of the songs, like ‘The Path’, ‘California’, ‘Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All)’, ‘Mood Ring’, ‘Oceanic Feeling’… And St. Vincent’s ‘At the Holiday Party’. There’s the big issue: ‘Solar Power’ is not only repetitive ‘in the inside’, but it also resembles music from different artists. The melody of ‘don’t want that California love’ reminds me a lot of something I’ve heard before, I can’t tell exactly what song it is, but that was the very first thing that popped into my head when I first heard it; then the chorus of ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ has the exact same melody of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Wild at Heart’; ‘California’, ‘The Man with the Axe’ and even my favourite track from here, ‘Fallen Fruit’, have some moments that belong in ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’; and some moments have a Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ vibe. It’s certainly not a coincidence that all the music ‘Solar Power’ resembles was produced by Jack Antonoff. This album has the same problem as his own does: his production is a blend of his input in all the albums he produced, and it’s not working. The best moment regarding the production is the guitars in ‘Fallen Fruit’… And nothing else.

Another aspect that pulls ‘Solar Power’ down is Lorde’s singing. It's completely flat. It's not even in the same stratosphere as that of ‘Melodrama’, even ‘Pure Heroine’, a sober and minimalistic record, has way more outstanding vocals than this. The only interesting vocal moment is ‘Mood Ring’, the way she uses her voice in that song perfectly fits her satirical lyricism.

Well… Let’s just say ‘Solar Power’ has a lot of sun and beaches, but very little power.

BEST TRACKS: ‘The Path’ ∙ ‘Fallen Fruit’ ∙ ‘Mood Ring’ ∙ ‘Oceanic Feeling’

WORST TRACKS: I don’t think there is a ‘worst’ track… It’s so flat that nothing is outstandingly bad or worse than the rest.

Review #8
Genre(s): folk pop, singer-songwriter, psychidelic pop

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