IF Lorde's brooding and era-defining debut Pure Heroine was inspired by teen angst and 2017's Melodrama was fuelled on the hedonistic party scene of success, then Solar Power is the blissed-out comedown.
The sun is a constant inspiration on Solar Power. It's shining everywhere.
It's present in the acoustic-dominated and more organic instrumentation and all over the '60s-inspired lead single and title track and the opener The Path, where Ella Yelich-O'Connor urges her millions of followers not to search for answers from celebrities, like herself, but in the sun. How ironic.
Lorde describes Solar Power as her "weed album". The soothing melodies and indie, folk and '60s and '70s pop arrangements are a dramatic departure from the taut and intense electro-pop of Tennis Court and Royals or anthemic pop of Green Light.
The Mamas & The Papas are an obvious influence on the swirling harmonies of Fallen Fruit. Here Lorde addresses climate change as she asks, "But how can I love what I know I am gonna lose? Don't make me choose."
Obviously geography has inspired Lorde. Solar Power is a rejection of the flashiness and cut-throat nature of Los Angeles, as she sings, "Goodbye to all the bottles/ all the models/ Bye to the clouds in the skies that all hold no rain," on California.
She returned to her native New Zealand to escape the claustrophobia of fame and then the worst of the pandemic on the North Island's beaches. The relaxed vibe flows through in the upbeat folk-pop of Secrets From A Girl (Who's Seen It All).
However, you can't shake the feeling that Solar Power is too mellow, weighed down by quiet contemplation.
Lorde's grown up, matured and chilled out, and that's cool. But Solar Power would have benefited from some of Lorde's trademark tension to be truly special.