Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Lorde – Solar Power

This song, and this entry, are your yearly reminder that “Soak Up The Sun” by Sheryl Crow is a banger, and you shall not speak ill of it. This, we are less sure of.


[Video]
[6.06]

Alex Clifton: Naaaaaaaaaaaaa, naaaaaaa naaaaaaaaaaaa na-na-na-naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Na-na-na naaaaaaaaaaaaa! Hey, Lorde!
[5]

Jeffrey Brister: You can’t fool me, Lorde — I know this is just an “indie” version of “Soak Up the Sun.” And while I can appreciate its sophistication, restraint, and overall tastefulness, the act of listening leaves me unsatisfied. “Solar Power” is checking all the right boxes — laid-back tempo, an arrangement thick with acoustic guitars and shimmery backing vocals, the drums recorded with that perfect “summer” preset — but it’s not coming together. It’s all too safe, too afraid of embracing the goofiness of the summer.
[5]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: It’s difficult to keep track of all the pandemic walls that people have hit over the past year and a half, but it’s easy to pinpoint the worst one: the “very dark winter” in January/February when thousands of people were dying everyday, the cold felt like millions of tiny daggers dancing on your skin, and it was no longer reasonable to see anyone outside. (Starved for social interaction, at one point, I got a drink with a friend sitting around a bonfire outside a bar; it was cold her beer literally froze into a slushie.) Lorde knows this winter was rough and she’s enlisted her friends (Clairo, Phoebe Bridgers, a particularly restrained Jack Antonoff) to generate something warm and glowing and beautiful to help you move on from it. “Come on and let the bliss begin,” she sings, at her most prophetic and prescient. “Solar Power” is the sound of the world learning how to open up again, the sound of sunshine on your skin before falling asleep at the beach, the sound of safety in numbers, the sound of youth reclaiming itself with beatific abandon. 
[8]

Katie Gill: Lorde’s trolling us, right? We think she loves the beach, she’s such a damn liar, or something like that. I mean, this song is basically HAIM does “Freedom ’90.” I know the first single off an album is usually the worst, but Lorde’s kind of the exception that proves the rule. I’m fine with letting Lorde be happy — if she’s having a good mood and a good time, then why shouldn’t she celebrate it in her music? But this feels surprisingly hokey and phoned in compared to some of her previous work. I mean, it’s a jam no matter what. But it’s a jam that confuses the shit out of me.
[7]

Leah Isobel: “Artisinal ‘Chasing the Sun’” was not on my Lorde Comeback bingo card, but I’m also… not mad about it?
[7]

Gaya Sundaram: “My cheeks in high colour, overripe peaches.” It’s not entirely clear that Lorde here is referring to the cheeks on her face rather than the ones from between which the sun supposedly shines (exhibit A: the album cover). It doesn’t really matter, though, when your ears are once again being caressed by the Kiwi’s take on the bananies/avocadies accent. The way she gives out those “ch”s, clenching her jaw just the right amount so that words like “features,” “p[ea]ctures” and “peaches” retain any lushness that her rasp hasn’t already taken away. Never mind that Winter has gripped the Southern Hemisphere, Ella is living her best Hot Cult Leader Summer life and I desperately hope this album lives up to the promise of genre-based storytelling that everyone is convinced she is aiming for. At the very least, I want to know what horrors she has in place for her culturally diverse yet uniformly skin-toned followers.
[6]

Alfred Soto: I suppose someone had to write the quietest summer song in pop history, and before hearing “Solar Power” I would’ve said Lorde could pull it off. The comparisons to “Freedom ’90” freaked me out, first because “Freedom ’90” is one of the most buoyant songs ever written; secondly because “Freedom ’90” has a hook, pulse, and buoyancy. “Solar Power” is so bland I couldn’t hear the resemblances: I hear a textural wash, like one of the filler tracks on the last Vampire Weekend album. It postures gleefully when I hear no audible glee (the self-harmonizing over the outro is unearned). 
[4]

John S. Quinn-Puerta: Lorde hits the exact vibe of the upcoming northern hemisphere summer just in time for winter in Aotearoa/NZ. The palm-muted guitar strings, so often ill-used of late, work with Lorde’s whispery vocals to create a delectable tension that explodes into the repeated refrain that ends the song. It’s all bolstered by a playfully chorused bass and perfectly restrained drums. “Solar Power” has not left my mind since its release, and is truly a delight. 
[9]

John Pinto: Made my cells think they have walls and chloroplasts.
[7]

Dede Akolo: I for one, have decided that this summer I will do nothing besides be hot. The song’s “drop,” while lackluster, signifies a good separation of the two moods within the song. The cheekiness of the beginning entertains me to no end; I’d like to think that Jesus would be a handsome dude. The second half, jam band, is very beige to be quite honest. The best critique I heard about the song however came from my friend who said that this song “is only suitable in the summer and therefore is useless to me for the rest of the year.” Note that this friend epitomizes this tweet
[7]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A work so flavorless that it’s compelled me to draft an eight part essay on the limitations of the Antonoffian approach to pop. The melody here is fun enough, the lyrics clever in the same rough-drafty way that Melodrama did better, but there’s nothing at the center of “Solar Power,” a pop song lacuna that makes me more perplexed every time I listen to it. I started this review off at [6] and every time I come back to it I drop the score another point. Let’s stop here.
[4]

Rose Stuart: I finally came around to Lorde with “Green Light,” enough so that I was excited for her new record. And it’s a fine, albeit bland, song. A fine, bland, Jack Antonoff song. I’ve heard plenty of complaints that Antonoff turns all the singers he works with into one uniform sound, but I didn’t believe it until I heard Lorde sounding indistinguishable from Lana Del Rey. Nay, this is Lana Del Rey. It must be. The word salad lyrics (just with “boy” replacing “baby”), the light, breathy voice, the religious references — oh god, did she just do Lana’s talk-rap? Lorde, sweetie, what did they do to you? 
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: Bleh. I could blame Jack Antonoff for doing whatever it is wrong that he does — for someone whose signature sound is supposedly ruining pop music, no one has convincingly defined what it is, and the best attempts are so broad they could describe three separate people. I could blame the Jason Mrazziness of this, or its suffocating smugness, or the even more suffocating smugness of the people who hate it, or the press release (“There’s someone I want you to meet. Her feet are bare at all times. She’s sexy, playful, feral, and free.”) that sounds like girlboss ad copy for an $15 spiked seltzer. (I have no thoughts or blame about the album cover.) But really, all of this is my scrambling to find some other justification for simple, subjective reality: this song just isn’t for me.
[4]

Oliver Maier: I think Lorde’s songs have worked best, historically, when they’ve been pleas for transcendence: the giddy throb of “Ribs” or her voice writhing against the beat on “Perfect Places,” songs for the feeling of watching cigarette smoke disappear from the balcony of a flat you’ll never find yourself at again, wishing you could follow it up into the night sky. So here’s “Solar Power”, where she’s finally in her perfect place, and it turns out that that is not a very exciting place to be. The first two minutes are coy and cute, maybe a little annoying, laced with flirty psych gestures and breezy jokes but not really justifying their stay. The outro is refreshingly full-bodied — think “Watermelon Sugar” by way of Primal Scream — but also far too little too late, a coda that should have been a chorus. It’s not that I think Lorde should have to be wracked with teenage discontent to make worthwhile music; good vibes are always needed, and besides there’s doubtless plenty of gloom yet to come from her. Still, whether by design or not “Solar Power” is musically half-full and lyrically tepid. Either it’s woefully basic satire or it’s earnest background music, and I’m not that compelled either way.
[4]

Vikram Joseph: Well, this took a bit of getting used to. There’s always been a sense of humour and playfulness in Lorde’s music, no matter how emotionally eviscerating her songs could be, but on “Solar Power” it’s front and centre, and she sounds at peace with the world in a way that’s so unexpected as to be slightly alarming: has she been kidnapped? Is this a coded plea for rescue? Perhaps the pandemic has prompted a reset of sorts. Everyone’s had their thoughts on the myriad songs that “Solar Power” sounds like; for me, “Faith”, “Wishing I Was There”, Sheryl Crow, TLC and Robbie Williams (and not just in “Can I kick it?”) all drift to the surface. It’s a little bit lightweight, but it’s fun and she fully inhabits it, ad-libs and all; now that I’ve had a few days to come round to the idea of Lorde being anything other than 19 and on fire, it doesn’t seem such a bad thing.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: Lorde’s at her I Am moment!?? WHAT IS HAPPENING!??!
[9]

Reader average: [5.28] (7 votes)

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2 Responses to “Lorde – Solar Power”

  1. “Historically”? She’s barely old enough to vote in many countries.

  2. you’re conveniently leaving out her pivotal role in the battle of the somme but that’s fine

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