Lorde embraces growth, simplicity in third studio album ‘Solar Power’

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New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde has gripped the music industry since releasing her hit song “Royals” at age 16. Her first two studio albums, “Pure Heroine” and “Melodrama,” received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with the latter placing at No. 460 on the 2020 revision of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Her third studio album, “Solar Power,” marks a shift in her career, leaving behind the intense synths and powerful vocals for a soft acoustic guitar and mellow vibes.

This laid-back style seems like a common trend among artists collaborating with acclaimed music producer Jack Antonoff, who also worked on Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” and “Evermore,” as well as Lana Del Ray’s “Chemtrails over the Country Club.”

After releasing the title track of the album, fans immediately picked up on the new sound. While some were ready for a mellower, upbeat album from the young musician, others weren’t as thrilled. Initial reactions to the album have been mixed, with publications like Pitchfork saying the album’s “holistic beauty and revelations about the natural world are often lost in the drab music.”

I enjoyed the change of pace, especially as someone who loves a nice acoustic bop. This album gives off more Jack Johnson vibes than Joan Jett, but that’s nothing to complain about. Expecting an artist to stay in one lane for their entire career is a sad way to engage with art.

Lorde’s new album focuses on maturity and growth, and some people just aren’t ready for that — and that’s fine. If you relate more to her previous albums, those are still available to stream to your heart’s content. However, expecting an artist to only release music you can relate to is selfish.

I know I’ll still go back to songs like “Buzzcut Season” and “Supercut” when I’m in the mood for her more angsty music, but it’s nice having songs like “Mood Ring” and “California” to listen to while driving with the windows down on a sunny day.

The album does get a bit repetitive in certain places, which is a valid criticism. But even then, Lorde’s lyricism shines throughout. A clear line of growth appears in the album’s final track, “Oceanic Feeling.”

“Now the cherry-black lipstick’s gathering dust in a drawer, I don’t need her anymore, ‘Cause I got this power, I just had to breathe,” Lorde sings, referencing her younger self as a misunderstood teen.

“Solar Power” is a cathartic shift towards personal growth and understanding for the 24-year-old musician. Some people might not relate to it as much as they’d hoped, which is something Lorde anticipated from the start.

As the first song on the album, “The Path,” clearly states, “Now if you’re looking for a saviour, well, that’s not me.”

Jared Shuff is the Collegian Editor-in-Chief and a senior in secondary education. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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My name is Jared Shuff, and I am the current editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I worked as the arts & culture editor and as a contributing writer for the news desk. I am a senior in secondary education with an emphasis in English/journalism. I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, and attended Hutchinson Community College before transferring to K-State in 2020.