“I decided early on in the process of making this album that I also wanted to create an environmentally kind, forward-thinking alternative to the CD. I wanted this Music Box product to be similar in size, shape and price to a CD, to live alongside it in a retail environment, but be something which stands apart — a plastic-free box that contains loads of extra visual content, handwritten notes, exclusive photos, and a download card. This card gets you a high-quality download of the music, 2 exclusive bonus tracks, and access to some special surprises along the way. It’s kind of like purchasing membership to a little club, one that’s committed to the evolving nature of a modern album.”
With that text the New Zealand singer Lorde announced her latest album “Solar Power”. Her third, after “Pure heroine” from 2013 and “Melodrama” from 2017. With “Royals” as a worldwide hit, she has been somewhat disappointing ever since. Some small hits that no one, except the real fans, will remember, while after ‘Royals’ we expected a bit more from the Croatian-New Zealander.
With the promotional text in mind, it’s strange to receive a copy of “Solar Power”. With the environment in mind, no CD in the plastic-free box. But all this is packed in plastic foil, and containing lots of extra art cards, thick text booklet and a poster, about half a tree of paper. A small minus when it comes to a deliberately environmentally friendly release.
And then we haven’t heard a note yet, because as said: No CD in the box, but only a business card from the Energy Consultant of the International Solar Institure: Ella Yelich-O’Connor; Lorde. With the website of the institute with a code on the back. A website with a WordPress logo and a field to enter the code before accessing Lorde’s music. You will just be one of those few fans without internet… Anyway, that’s why the album will also be released on vinyl.
Opening track “The Path” comes in dreamily and shows the common thread on “Solar Power”. The sun being medicine for teenage millionaires. Fleeing away from the media, by new beacon artists who are being chased by the media. Having to stay inside and putting the phone away, taking painkillers just to survive. A shocking text when you think about it. Could Lorde be about to go down? Let’s hope not.
Already released as a single, title track “Solar Power” is the second track, and therefore already somewhat known. The declaration of love for the summer, the sun, but also the weather, the hatred for the winter, the reference to A Tribe Called Quest, the ode to the sea and it starts to look like Lorde has misled us with the business card to put. Solar Power… The sun…
“California” also takes the same direction as “The Path”. The parties, alcohol, paying back the producers who take advantage of the thousands of stars who just want a breakthrough into showbiz. It is that Lorde sings it so lackadaisical, but if you listen carefully, the album “Solar Power” is not so such a cheerful album by the New Zealander.
And that’s basically the whole album. “Stoned At The Nail Salon”, “Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen it All)” are not the most cheerful lyrics of the singer. But that is (fortunately) interspersed with a good dose of Flower Power lyrics, cheerful, freedom, sun sea beach. Still, what lingers is the 24-year-old’s fear, pain, sadness, and longing.
“Solar Power” isn’t so much about the awareness of solar energy, but more about getting the energy to live. Making the sadness, the pain, the flight to the longing disappear, in which Lorde seems to go more dreamy and dreamy again compared to her earlier work. Where ‘Solar Power’ radiates cheerfulness on a single spin, the album gets darker the more you listen to it. And that, with a title like ‘Solar Power’, is quite a contrast.
Lorde is now firmly established in the musical landscape with her third album, and will certainly remain in the picture for a while with the title track and “Oceanic Feeling”. Rightly so. But where “Solar Power” was presented by the singer as a point of view for a better environment, in the end it seems more like an album for a better self. A processing album. Let’s hope for better times for Lorde. (7/10) (Universal New Zealand)
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