Few artists out there have mastered the art of the comeback quite like Lorde.
Since the release of her first album, Pure Heroine, when she was just 16 years old, Ella Yelich-O’Connor has always had a way of leaving listeners desperate for more – and she always comes through in spectacular fashion.
Having taken four years away from the release of new music, fans across the world were able to share their collective excitement this month as the first taste of Lorde’s new sound, Solar Power, hit the airwaves. The release hadn’t been announced, teased or even hinted towards – it dropped as a complete surprise.
A surprise, in fact, that Lorde herself wasn’t even expecting – the single was leaked ahead of its planned release date in an apparent online distribution mishap. Given how long the song had been in the works, you’d imagine that any artist in her position would be upset by such a turn of events. Lorde didn’t quite see it this way.
“I love it,” she told Zane Lowe for New Music Daily following the leak.
“The kids are insane, I love how hungry they are. Tonight’s the solar eclipse, you know? You gotta follow the vibes.”
Her response is perfectly in-fitting with the atmosphere of Solar Power. Having previously made her name with tracks that explore the ups-and-downs of modern adolescence – the romanticisation of normality found within Royals, the anger and bitterness of that first difficult break-up explored beautifully in 2017’s Green Light – Solar Power finds Lorde in a much more grounded and peaceful place.
“I remember I was on Martha’s Vineyard,” she explained, asked to describe the moment that the inspiration for Solar Power hit.
“We’d been for a big swim all day, my hair was wet and I came back into my room where I had my little Yamaha DX keyboard and I just started singing and kind of figuring this thing out. I was like ‘I don’t know what’s going on here, but I love it’!”
“It really was just such a natural, joyful extension of an awesome day.”
Solar Power’s blissful origins are clear within the track, which acts as the perfect tribute to the New Zealand summer – listen closely and you may be able to make out the sound of cicadas within the instrumental, humming away in an audio that Lorde captured on her phone one evening.
It’s fair to say that the single more than likely hints towards the overall vibe of her upcoming album, which will share the same name. It looks to be completely different to her previous album releases, both of which perfectly reflected the life that she was leading at the time – Pure Heroine’s soundtrack to suburban adolescence, followed by the feelings of both the pain and freedom of starting over reflected in 2017 follow-up Melodrama.
These days, Lorde leads the kind of nomadic, blissful lifestyle that many only dream of. She has all but abandoned her social media and lives quietly by the sea, where she spends her days swimming, gardening, fishing and, overall, simply following the rhythms of the world around her. Anyone who has had the chance to hear the track could vouch that this comes across beautifully in Solar Power – it’s easy to believe that even the busiest of city-dwellers could be transported away from the concrete jungle upon hitting play.
Despite the hype surrounding the single, Lorde isn’t expecting Solar Power to find the same commercial success as her 2013 debut. Pure Heroine saw 16-year-old Ella catapulted into the mainstream, setting the stage for similar teen stars such as Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo to follow. It’s a phenomenon that she has made peace with experiencing just once.
“If you’re here for the commercial performance of my work, you’ll only become more and more disenchanted,” she told The Guardian, adding that she was ‘way past’ worrying over her music’s chart success.
“It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes a sound people are interested in because it’s so fucking zany.”
One particular aspect of the track’s sound that has been widely discussed online is its apparent similarity to Primal Scream’s 1990 release Loaded. Despite keeping a healthy distance between herself and the online discourse surrounding her work, the conversation hasn’t escaped Lorde’s attention.
The two do inarguably sound similar, both in their hacienda-inspired instrumental sound and in their carefree message. However, far from becoming defensive over the accusations that she ripped her new sound from elsewhere, Lorde lightheartedly assures listeners that the similarities occurred unintentionally.
“I had never heard Primal Scream in my life!”, she laughed when interviewed by Zane Lowe. “I wrote the song on the piano and (later) we realised ‘This sounds a lot like Loaded’! It’s one of those crazy things – they just were the spiritual forebears of the song.”
“I reached out to Bobby (Gillespie, of Primal Scream) and he was so lovely about it. He was like ‘These things happen, you caught a vibe that we caught years ago’ and he gave us his blessing.”
“Let the record state, Loaded is 100% the original blueprint for this but we arrived at it organically and I’m glad we did!”
We’re yet to hear when Solar Power will be followed by a second supporting single, though fans can rest assured that the album will be out in full this summer. After that, it could be a fairly lengthy wait for new music – both Pure Heroine and Melodrama were followed by a four-year hiatus.
“There’s so much value in coming home”, Lorde says, elaborating on the importance of giving yourself space to wind down.
“Especially over the summer, there’s a solid five months there where I don’t even want to be thinking about work. I want to be thinking about what the tide’s doing, how the fishing is, what the sun’s doing that day. It’s very valuable to me and my process.”
“I think people realise that about me now. I’m someone who has to go away and figure it out and I’ll be back – and I’ll bring you a full universe! It just takes me a minute.”
Lorde’s 3rd studio album, Solar Power, drops on August 20th.