Genre: Pop/soft rock/acoustic 

Best Tracks: “Solar Power”, “The Path”, “Oceanic Feeling”

Weakest Tracks: “Dominoes”, “California” 

Duration: 43 min 13 sec 

Release date: August 20, 2021 

Lorde, famous for her 2013 hits “Royals” and “Tennis Court”, is back with her third album ‘Solar Power’. This album marks her return to the industry after four long years. 

The New Zealander has garnered millions of fans, acclaim and awards (including Grammys) for her first two albums, ‘Pure Heroine’ (2013) and ‘Melodrama’ (2017). Naturally, this led to extremely high expectations by audiences for the 22-year old singer to deliver. 

‘Solar Power’, produced by Jack Antonoff, is a pleasant listen, but when it comes to radio play, charts and musical innovation, it miserably fails to stand equally with its predecessors. When it comes to sonic originality and creativity, very little is there to be explored that hasn’t been heard before. ‘Solar Power’ has a rollout of largely bland acoustic tracks with very familiar chord progressions. The themes are vague, briefly hinting at social media, fame, staying in touch with nature and letting go. The lyricism, which electrified her previous releases, is unambitious in this one. 

The strongest tracks here are easily the opening and closing tracks, which are “The Path” and “Oceanic Feeling”, and the lead single “Solar Power” which has an anthemic folks-y quality. With ‘Mood Ring’, we are confused whether it is satirical. While the singer herself claims it to be a satire on wellness culture and New Age-ism, it’s not convincing. And if it needs to be explained that a song is satire, did it really succeed as one? 

Producer Antonoff has been on a roll, producing big-name albums for female pop singers this year and last. His prolific list includes Clairo with ‘Sling’, Lana Del Rey with ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’ and St. Vincent with ‘Daddy’s Home’. 

Also Read: New Songs Sunday: A brief recap of this week’s tracks

Jack has undoubtedly cut impressive records for the last decade and has, therefore, been labelled the music industry’s producer genius. But even consistently excellent producers run out of ideas eventually. This is sadly true for ‘Solar Power’, where Jack seems to be scraping the bottom of his sound barrel.

It also seems like Lorde has decided to take the backseat in the car, to lay back and vibe. No longer interested in joining the race, the young starlet, who found fame early in life, seems to be more relaxed now. She is not interested in making groundbreaking music nor converting new fans. 

With ‘Solar Power’, she is at a phase where she can make the music she feels like and perfect it. The record is not bad, to make it clear. Instead, it’s an agreeable and relaxing playlist to put on during a car ride, in a beach retreat or in hotel elevators, and not meant to be listened to with intense concentration. 

‘Solar Power’ has a breezily sunny atmosphere that feels like a companion music piece to a Visit New Zealand tourism campaign, or any country with sunny beaches. It’s conventional, unthreatening and even shallow at times. Looks like Lorde’s best art comes from her angst and heartbreak, rather than her peaceful resignation, but it’s good to see the star happy and positive in these dark times.

‘Solar Power’ is now streaming on Spotify.

Listen to the album on YouTube.

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