Lorde released her third studio album just over a week ago as of writing. It’s called “Solar Power,” and it’s a complex, intimate work of art that demands analysis.
I’m no music critic, and aside from playing the saxophone in middle school and an online piano class for beginners, I have absolutely no technical experience in the rhythmic arts. However, there are a multitude of ways to appreciate and analyze art beyond the technical, and I feel it’s necessary to clarify this point not only for my sake, but for the sake of all art lovers. Art can absolutely be an introverted phenomenon, made entirely of feelings, moods and vibes.
Before I continue, it’s worth saying that I absolutely loathe the designations of introvert and extrovert. It’s this form of emotional tribalism that only exists to hamper communication and destroy the nuance of social interaction. Don’t ask me what that last sentence actually means; it’s basically just a pedantic way of saying I think it’s dumb. Also, Lorde is a self-described introvert, so I guess she didn’t get the memo.
But when I experience that intense, internalized emotion people usually associate with introversion, the way I experience music completely changes. We’ve all had the experience of finding a song, album or singular lyric that speaks to your soul. All of “Solar Power” capitalizes on this feeling and asks the listener to become aware of themselves in a way that other albums don’t.
It’s clear that all of Lorde’s music comes from a very personal place. She sings about her life, her experiences and the lessons she’s learned. They’re words that I think a lot of college students would relate to — words that evoke feelings of social anxiety and being alone. Fitting with the theme of one of my previous articles, she even talks about the pain that comes with growing up.
Despite the album being so relatable, the first song addresses this idea directly. In “The Path,” Lorde repeats over and over again that she’s not the savior people expect her to be. She can’t take away the pain her listeners feel, and the only advice she can offer is to follow the sun.
While a lot of artists profit from the undying worship they receive from their fans, Lorde wants something different. She wants the listener to know that she’s just a person sharing their story. It’s great that that story connects with people, but its power comes from the way those people internalize that connection.
That’s why this album has affected me so greatly. Thanks in part due to COVID-19, being alone has become the norm. Social anxiety and self-doubt are all too real. And I know I’m not the only one feeling this way — according to a 2013 poll from the American Psychological Association, over 40% of college students said that anxiety was their topmost concern.
When I listen to “Solar Power,” I feel intensely introspective and reflect on all of the problems I’m facing. Instead of looking to others for answers, the songs inspire me to look within myself the same way that Lorde has. It’s like she published a fill-in-the-blank guide to all these common problems. By itself, that guide doesn’t hold the answers. It requires a little bit of work and self-awareness to make a difference, and I think that’s exactly what Lorde wants as an artist. It’s what makes “Solar Power” so… powerful.
It’s what I hope for as a writer, too. I hope that through sharing my experiences through the lens of amazing pieces of media, others will be able to follow the same path. I don’t have all the answers, and neither does Lorde, but through a little bit of introspection, anything is possible.