After five years, Lorde has finally returned with “Solar Power,” the lead single for her upcoming third studio album of the same name. With pivotal albums like Pure Heroine and Melodrama under her belt, Lorde has crafted herself to be a relatively elusive artist that always delivers when the time comes. Things are no different with this sunny (pun intended) new single.
Co-written and produced by frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff (“Sober,” Liability,” “Perfect Places”), “Solar Power” is the latest release to follow what seems to be the major pop music trend of Summer 2021: easy and breezy. In past years, we’ve had explosive hooks and anthemic choruses anchor summer’s biggest hits. This year, however, between releases from Doja Cat and SZA (“Kiss Me More”), Tinashe (“Pasadena”), Justin Bieber (“Peaches”), and now Lorde, pop’s brightest stars are opting for songs that capture the more relaxed notes of the season. “Solar Power” prioritizes pacing over everything else, and that’s why the track is so stellar. The song starts with an urgent dry acoustic guitar and the wry lyric “I hate the winter.” Lorde’s greatest feat here isn’t her songwriting (which, of course, is still great), it’s her use of different vocal inflections to add some character and color to the song. You can hear her winking through the way she sings “I’m kinda like a prettier Jesus” and her mischievous grin is apparent in the way she sing-talks “Can I kick it? Yeah, I can.” These minuscule moments, and others like it, work together to introduce the new Lorde of the Solar Power universe. This Lorde has just completed a new stage of growth in her life and is eager to simply bask in the goodness of the now.
As “Solar Power” progresses from hating winter to the interstellar chants of the title in the outro, the production evolves in tandem with the lyrics. The acoustic guitar steadily morphs into a wall of sound characterized by Phil Collins-esque drums that kick in before the bridge, stunning saxophone and trumpets, and background vocals courtesy of Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo. By the end of its run, “Solar Power” is overwhelming in the best and most rewarding way possible. “Solar Power,” from a sonic standpoint, couldn’t be more different from “Royals” and “Green Light,” but it still sounds distinctly like Lorde. Her voice sounds right at home on this soundscape which pulls inspiration from surf and psychedelic rock. “Solar Power” is a worthy reintroduction of a generational talent and a near-perfect addiction to the blithe and ethereal songs of Summer 2021.