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Solar Power

by Lorde

Released August 20, 2021 via Universal Music New Zealand

Reviewed August 30, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Solar Power (51%), Fallen Fruit (34%), The Path (33%)

Four years after her catchy yet dismissible debut Pure Heroine, Lorde’s Melodrama made a satisfying step forward with stylistic developments and fleshed-out songwriting. You would expect the same progress after another meditative hiatus from Lorde, but her third LP, Solar Power, actually seems like a regression of sorts. Thematically, there’s a significant lack of self-awareness that plagues its approach: Lorde calls this her “weed album,” but has also commented on its satirisation of the Instagrammified ‘60s Earth-loving hippie-ism. Despite the latter, there’s no critique or exaggeration during Solar Power—rather, it just comes across as unironically soaking in the rays, feeling the grass in-between your toes, a garland cresting your blonde locks. Perfectly intimate, like most recent Antonoff-outings have been, the album is a return home to escape prying eyes, but it doesn’t fully capture how and why nature’s embrace is healing. “California” and “Oceanic Feeling” are the strongest contenders, but for almost every gratifying moment, there’s an underwritten track or ham-fisted reference to drugs. This is the pumpkin-spiced latte of summer: it’s kinda good, but it woefully represents a somehow-appropriated vaguely spiritual over-attraction to the season. – Cam (6.8/10)

With a combination of undercooked songwriting and instrumentals seemingly devoid of ambition, Solar Power is a noticeable step back for Lorde. But for co-producer Jack Antonoff, it is a mark of consistency in the worst way: another pop artist falling victim to the throes of “minimalism” and folk aspirations. There is nothing inherently wrong in going for a stripped-back, hazy, and psychedelia-influenced sound, but Solar Power opts for these characteristics without substantiating them. There is just enough bop to make it feel uplifting, enough ambience to make it feel “trippy,” and a sun-soaked tinge to give it that beachy feel—but the lack of development and differentiation makes each track land somewhere between background music and the soundtrack to a cheesy TV advert for anti-depressants. And while Lorde’s lyrics offer a good glimpse into her mind and what she has learned in recent years regarding climate change, her internal conflicts with fame, and how she has dealt with these things—escapism and seclusion, mostly—they lack all relatability and don’t offer much in the way of substance either. – Dominick (5/10)

After a four-year absence and a whole lot of new material to lull about, Lorde is back with her underwhelming third studio album, Solar Power. While Lorde is usually known for well thought out analogies, metaphors, and motifs about her adolescence and early adulthood, this album falls short in more than one sense. Between the almost uncatchable critique on influencer/wellness culture and half-baked production from pop’s golden boy, Jack Antonoff, this album feels lazy and phoned in. Focusing on the importance of simplicity, this album plays like a sad attempt at a singer-songwriter album with a quarter of the emotional maturity a project like that requires. While the ultimate takeaway is Lorde’s active process of reimagining her interactions with fame and celebrity that is still left up to her, fame is exactly what she wants to make of it. And on this album—instead of diving deep on her own personal struggles and wanting for a newly reshaped relationship—she passes judgement on those who fully embrace the idea. The duality between the airy, beach time productions and her concerns for her life and the world around her could have led to an interesting project had it dug a bit beyond the surface. However, this project just feels like a vapid, out of touch commentary from someone who seems to be losing their own grip on reality. – Pablo (4/10)

DeVán: 7.3/10 | Hadley: 7/10 | Cam: 6.8/10 | Victoria: 6.8/10 | Dominick: 5/10

Jared: 5/10 | Peter: 5/10 | Daniel: 4/10 | Pablo: 4/10


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