So, that derriere-revealing post Lorde put up three days ago, strongly hinting at imminent new music, wasn’t just a bum steer. Her first new music in four years has arrived in the form of “Solar Power,” a summer single that is gleefully self-conscious about being a summer single like few recent summer singles before it. She’s actually messianic about being a pop solstice-bringer.
The cheekiest lyric has her declaring: “Lead the boys and girls onto the beaches / Come one, come all, I’ll tell you my secrets / I’m kinda like a prettier Jesus.” And indeed, the video, directed by Joel Kefali and Ella Yelich-O’Connor, posits Lorde almost as the leader of a happy-go-lucky, hippie solstice cult — almost a benign version of “Midsommar” — in which none of her followers seem to mind that they’re stuck wearing muted pastels while she gets to blossom in a bold yellow two-piece. (Being Jesus has its privileges!)
“Solar Power” will surely throw sunshine into the lives of most fans who’ve waited a whole lot of solstices for new music. And as a followup to the great (and by now possibly dimly remembered) “Melodrama” album, released four years ago this week, it’s about as radical a trip from darkness into pure light as Taylor Swift’s colorful “Lover” songs were after the dark “Reputation” (to name-check other Jack Antonoff productions).
Is it a case of “leave ’em wanting more,” though? After most of the song takes place to a gently strummed acoustic guitar, the beat doesn’t actually kick in till more than two minutes into a barely three-minute song, at which point we’re already through with verses and choruses and onto a “Let the Sunshine In”-style coda (for anyone out there old enough to be a “Hair”-head). It feels more like an intro to her forthcoming album (whose name and release date remain a mystery) than what we’ll probably end up thinking of as its main courses, or choruses. But Lorde undoubtedly has more expansive tracks to feed us that are meant to last after the dancing, raft-building boys of summer have gone.