For this article, the Journalism staff was given the task of listening at least once to Lorde’s new album, “Solar Power,” and to write 200 words describing their reaction.
Here’s what they had to say.
Briley Simpson: After listening to “Solar Power” by Lorde, I hate to say that I was a little disappointed. Maybe that was because I was expecting songs similar to the ones Lorde has done in the past. The whole album was extremely mellow. It had a completely different dynamic than her past albums. All the songs sort of had the same vibe, and, lyrically, there were times when I didn’t know what the songs were about, but maybe that was the point. I just know that after listening to her album I was waiting for a more upbeat song to start playing. Nonetheless, there were some songs I actually enjoyed, like “Dominoes” and “Big Star.” “Dominoes” had a great melody and was all around a pretty good song. The tune was happy and exuberant. “Big Star” was definitely a song I could see going on a breakup playlist, and it had a weird yet comforting sort of vibe about it. If you like the sort of chill, almost psychedelic vibe of the album, then good for you. While “Solar Power” actually did have some good tunes, personally, I think that it was a big step down from the more spontaneous, upbeat “Melodrama.”
Gunner Bryson: Upon listening to Lorde’s “Solar Power,” I have to say that I was impressed. I must also say that I’ve never listened to Lorde before so I have no reference to whether or not this is worse or better than her other albums. The title track “Solar Power” felt like actual sun rays were shining down, similar to “Sun King” by The Beatles. The rest of the album, though, felt very melancholy and somber. Tracks like “Stoned in the
Nail Salon” comes to mind, where the song is very slow-paced and sometimes boring. One of my biggest criticisms of this album would probably be the boring factor of it all. Some of the songs on this album nearly put me to sleep. They were so boring. That being said, there were also songs like “The Path” that I really liked and thought were interesting. I think “The Path” and the ending of “Solar Power” are a perfect example of the stark contrast between groovy and upbeat and melancholy and somber. For me, the contrast this album has is somewhat of a good thing—but just barely. Overall, I think this is a pretty good album with a couple of downsides that aren’t very good.
Miles Clark: Most kids our age remember riding in the car and listening to mainstream pop music while your parents drove you to your friends house for a sleepover. One of those times, I can pretty much guarantee you heard the song entitled “Royals” by Lorde. Despite the nostalgia associated with her music, I was very unimpressed with Lorde’s newest album, “Solar Power.” . Personally, this genre of music isn’t my cup of tea anyway, but I really didn’t enjoy the album as much as I hoped I would. I will say, most of the album was very chill, and for the most part it put out some pretty good vibes. My personal favorite songs from the album were “Secrets From A Girl Who’s Seen It All,” “Mood Ring,” and “California.” Those songs stood out to me because they were the only ones I would put on my playlist to enjoy again. “Secrets From A Girl Who’s Seen It All” just paints a picture in my mind of me and my girlfriend driving, eating Chick-fil-A, and going on a road trip. It really just puts you in a good mood. I like how this album differs from some of Lorde’s past projects. Lots of her old music was kind of depressing, just to be depressing. It doesn’t make you sad: it’s kind of like listening to a girl spilling a ton of sad stuff for no real purpose. Overall, I like this album much more than her older music, but this would never be my first choice to listen to. It’s an okay album with one or two great songs.
Connor Richardson: After listening to “Solar Power” by Lorde, I would have to say I am not very impressed with the album that much. I haven’t listened to any music by Lorde other than “Royals” prior to listening to this album, and I have to say this wasn’t a good start. The album just had a sad or gloomy vibe to it, which did not match the name at all. I felt that the album would be more upbeat with the name “Solar Power.” If I were in an upset mood, however, this would be a good album to turn to. This album does have some good songs on it, such as “Solar Power,” “Fallen Fruit,” and “Dominoes.” These songs stand out because I feel like the beat is just very nice. Some songs that I would consider weak points would be “Stoned at the Nail Salon” and “Leader of a New Regime.” These songs just don’t pop out to me as much as the others did. All in all this album is a fairly alright album, but it just isn’t for me. If the album included more upbeat songs to go with the theme of summer, then it would be better.
Cade Stone: As most people who grew up on video games (mainly “GTA 5”), you may remember riding through Los Santos with Non Stop Pop on, listening to “Tennis Court” by Lorde (who, upon further research, turns out is not a grown man from “South Park”). After listening to the heavy bass and pop songs from her earlier material, I was expecting the same from “Solar Power.” Instead I got what I thought was a vibey, summer-time drive album. The stand-out song to me was “Oceanic Feeling,” which to me is the perfect song to drive around to. Overall, “Solar Power” was an album I didn’t find myself wanting to skip songs on, which I sometimes do. The songs perfectly matched each other, and each had me dancing a little bit, and it was a fun album. I love the way the overall vibe has some touches of sadness but at the same time features some happiness, almost like breaking away from quarantine and being able to live with others again. To me, Lorde is trying to break away from the pop mainstream and start making indie pop music, which is different. Indie pop has more vibes and slow upbeat songs. The whole album was really good; I’m happy she’s changing styles and will hopefully continue to make songs in this fashion.
Mr. Peace: Not quite the trainwreck that some have framed it as nor the take-the-world-by-storm successor many may have expected from the creator of “Melodrama,” one of the most widely praised pop albums of the 2010s, Lorde’s “Solar Power” is an album borne under the weight of expectation—that then shrugged it off.
As Connor noted above, there is indeed an ironic contrast between the external aesthetic of this album—including its title and its bright and beachy music videos—and the music inside (not to mention the lyrics). The songs here, in their unhurried pace and acoustic instrumentation (with a dollop of synthesizer here and there), do bear some resemblance to producer Jack Antonoff’s other recent collaborations. (The song “California,” for instance, has a chorus that wouldn’t be totally out of place on Lana Del Rey’s last two albums though Lorde lacks the writing chops that Del Rey has.) That said, having listened to “Solar Power” a few times now, I’m most reminded of another recent pop album dealing, at least partly, with both the practical and emotional fallout of worldwide success: Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever.” Aside from the outburst at the end of Eilish’s title track, which colors the rest of the album once you know it’s coming, Eilish’s more recent material has largely taken the minimalist tendencies threaded throughout her earlier work and made them the central focus, attempting to pare a pop song down to something like bare essentials: some bass, some snare, some background vocals, and a hook. “Happier Than Ever” sounds and reads like an album made by someone skeptical of the spotlight shined on her, if not outright wishing they could avoid it.
“Solar Power” makes a similar case, beginning with its (great) opening track, “The Path,” in which Lorde directly states that “if you’re looking for a savior, well, that’s not me.” There’s no “Green Light” here, and there’s no “Perfect Places”—no anthems to be sung in arenas. (And even when they come close, as with the title track or “Mood Ring,” some of the posturing comes off, even if read satirically, as poor—and privileged—form, given the state of the world at the moment.) Instead, the back half of “Solar Power” consists of only wisps of songs, tracks like “Big Star” or “Dominoes” that, when replayed in the mind, are only remembered as brief mutters over acoustic guitars, with “Mood Ring” bringing back the hooks and “Oceanic Feeling” letting the listener ride out the album on an admittedly ear-catching drone. There’s something interesting in the mish-mash here, for me, but I’m not sure whether I’m fascinated by the failure or compelled by a kernel of truth expressed in ways that push back against my expectations. “Solar Power” seems to say, simultaneously, “look at me” and “look away,” all while resting on a bed of narcotizing (or, say some, boring) instrumentals.
Maybe I shouldn’t think too hard. Maybe I should just ride the wave.