12:00AM. Friday 11 June. I press play. The plucky strum of an acoustic guitar fills my ears. ‘I hate the winter. Can’t stand the cold.’ Oh, she’s back, baby.
You might think that the single ‘Solar Power’ by 24 year-old, New Zealand-born Ella Yelich-O’Connor (more well-known as Lorde) is best placed behind women skipping about on a skincare advert. Sure, it could be. But for me it’s more than that. It’s my summer agenda. A melodic handbook to study and live by. As me and my equally Lorde-obsessed friend, Joe, like to say: a ‘Hot Lorde Summer’ is approaching.
Two words: ‘you ready?’ Arm outstretched behind her, Lorde is grabbing our hand and pulling us with all her might into a new, bubbly, sun-drenched era. The single’s chorus instructs us to, ‘forget all of the tears that you’ve cried’. Away from the sublime heartache of Melodrama and the adolescent angst of Pure Heroine, it feels like a new beginning for Lorde, and vicariously for us too. Staying loyal to her previous work, however, she devotes herself to crafting minimalist lyrics that are heavy with potential interpretation, yet float delicately above effortlessly anthemic instrumentals. This makes ‘Solar Power’ feel like a natural evolution. The beginning of a new season.
From the title, to the roll-out being meticulously aligned with major dates in the natural calendar, Lorde’s upcoming third studio album (also named Solar Power) is an ode to Planet Earth. Solar Power’s raison d’être is to ‘celebrate the natural world’. This has partly emerged from Ella’s 2019 trip to Antarctica, on which she embarked to learn more about environmental issues. Not only will this album be a manifesto for our individual summers, but it will also serve as an important reminder to cherish, appreciate, and, crucially, protect the world around us.
In one of her top-secret* emails, Ella speaks of the spirit of the album’s first single: ‘it’s about that infectious summer energy that takes hold of us all.’ Her new persona? ‘Sexy, playful, feral, and free.’ Channeling this energy in the music video, she bounds around an Oceanic beach. Not once does her mischievous smile fall from her lips. In the warm haze of the white sands and golden sun, she launches into those erratic dance moves we love and expect from her.
The lyrics consolidate ‘Solar Power’ as the soundtrack for a summer of knowing your self-worth. I mean, does anything scream self-love more than describing yourself as, ‘kinda like a prettier Jesus’?! The heavenly harmonies uplift messages of self-care. Cancelling plans? Go on, treat yourself. Frolicking on the beach? Get that tan on. Throwing your cellular device in the water? Okay, maybe don’t do that.
Cheeky ad-libs are peppered in between these rituals. ‘Can you reach me?’, with quickness Ella gleefully replies, ‘no, you can’t!’ In the context of her Antarctica visit, you can’t help but laugh at Ella’s immediate admission of hating the winter and being unable to stand the cold. The peachy shot that emblazons the album cover only reaffirms that yes, she’s having fun! And that we should join her, too.
In the vein of the titular track, Solar Power is set to be filled with anthems underlined by the importance of care: self-care and care for the world that we inhabit. ‘I want this to be your summer companion,’ Ella declared in her announcement email. The malleability of ‘your’ is what resonates. It is for all of us, no matter how we choose to listen. Similarly, your ‘Hot Lorde Summer’ is whatever you want it to be. Again, maybe don’t permanently damage your phone by drowning it, but definitely have a few days offline if you need it. Bask in the glorious sunshine. Connect with nature. Find joy in the little things. Hell, get ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ if that’s your thing.** Most importantly, look after and enjoy yourself. Relax and let Lorde soundtrack the long, sultry days for you.
Around 24 hours post-’Solar Power’ release, Joe and I were tipsily dancing down a deserted village road, underneath a never-ending cerulean sky smattered with strawberry clouds. AirPods in, ‘Solar Power’ on full volume, world out. Not a care to be had; just great music, great friends, and the great outdoors. That’s the kind of energy I’m channeling for my ‘Hot Lorde Summer’ – what will yours look like?
* If you haven’t signed up to her mailing list already, you are missing out!
** No, not an unreleased Lana Del Rey song, but the next single from the upcoming album.
Solar Power, the third studio album from Lorde, is set to be released on August 27.
‘Solar Power’, the single’ is available to stream now on all major streaming services.
By Emma Bain
Illustration: by Hannah Imafidon