Walker: The end of ‘Solar Power’ era


Liliane Callegari CC BY 2.0 [Wiki Commons]

Lorde’s influence in the music industry has a long and impactful history. Although the singer’s most recent album’s era is coming to a close, this isn’t the end for Lorde.

John Robert Walker, Staff Writer

After a four-year hiatus, New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde released her long-awaited third studio album, Solar Power, late last summer. The record featured 12 tracks that were a much different style than her first two albums, which disappointed many fans at first, including me.

Since the release, Lorde had an active year, going on tour around the world and releasing numerous music videos. The recent release of her music video for “Oceanic Feeling” marked the one-year anniversary of her album and concluded her Solar Power era. 

Lorde had a lot to live up to with her most recent album. While she only released her first two albums, Pure Heroine and Melodrama, as a teenager, they both sat high on the Billboard charts for long periods of time. With those albums, she perfectly captured the pain of growing up, the feeling of being out of place, love, heartbreak and many other feelings associated with being a teenager.

Many of her fans wanted a replication of those relatable albums, but that is not what they got out of Solar Power.

Lorde is no longer a teenager, and she has had new life experiences in between her albums; it is no surprise her music has evolved with her. Solar Power left behind the dark, gloomy angst of adolescence and focused on Lorde’s new lifestyle of enjoying nature, soaking up the sun and living in the moment. This theme was evident throughout the album full of organic instruments, soft vocals and happy lyrics. It was also clear in the music videos she released with lots of beach shots, sun and relaxing.

The major shift in style was shocking to fans, even disappointing to some, but the album’s vibe just needed time to sink in. Fans and critics alike were very vocal about their initial disappointment. Rolling Stone rated the album a 3.5 out of 5 and Pitchfork gave it a 6.8 out of 10. However after a few months and a few listens, fans began to warm up to the album. Lorde knew this was the case, as she wrote in an email newsletter to her fans, “It took people a while to get the album — I still get emails every day from people who are just coming around to it now!” Even though Lorde seems to have handled the criticism well, the past year has still been a lot. She also wrote, “I can honestly say it’s been the year with the highest highs and lowest lows I think I’ve ever experienced.”

One of the definite highs of the year was her return to live performances. Lorde announced her Solar Power Tour back in June of 2021 with the announcement of her album. In April, she performed her first full concert since the pandemic started, and it was worth the wait. 

Lorde went above and beyond with the stage design and wardrobe, sticking to the theme of the album. Her wardrobe was very summery, featuring lots of yellows, light greens and pinks, but that is not even what stood out the most. The centerpiece of the stage was a rotating sundial staircase, which captured the audience’s attention and was incorporated into the performance beautifully. The stage was illuminated by a projected sun Lorde and her guitarists used to creatively cast their silhouettes. The sun began with warm hues but smoothly changed colors as the setlist progressed into some of her older projects. 

Lorde balanced her setlist with songs from all three of her albums, taking her fans on a journey through her progression as an artist. This made for a rollercoaster performance, jumping from calm songs such as “Fallen Fruit” to upbeat, dance-along songs such as “Supercut.” 

Upon her return to the music world, Lorde had an eventful year filled with many ups and downs. Although her Solar Power era is coming to a close, one thing is clear: Her career as an artist is far from over.