SOUNDS FAMILIARBaby A. Gil – The Philippine Star

September 14, 2021 | 12:00am

Admit it, it is becoming more and more difficult to be happy these days. How could you when stepping out of the house could be a death sentence? How could you when even the occasional moments of joy come with a dark cloud?

Music helps. Fun tunes like what Lil Nas X makes. Epic weepies from The Weeknd. Teen melodramas from Olivia Rodrigo. Good old Frank Sinatra. Even Christmas music. But still, you end up wanting more or at least something different. Something that would clear up that cloud even just a bit.

I found one from an unlikely source. Would you believe Lorde. What she offers in her new album is most, to use that trite word, refreshing. Refreshing like a sun-kissed day with no worries during these dreary times. The title is Solar Power, meaning the power of the sun and it is an invitation to return to the simplicity of nature.

Lorde is this singer-songwriter from New Zealand, whose early music blended pointed social commentary with teen angst. She made a sensational debut with a song titled Royals eight years ago and offered more of the same in her first album, Pure Heroine. It was a spaced-out dissertation on boredom from a 16-year-old’s point of view and defiantly she thumbed her nose at everything.

By the time she got to the even bigger selling, emotional Melodrama, Lorde was one of the brightest young stars of the time. Set against sophisticated arrangements, her songs talked about love, heartbreak and the reality of ending up alone. It is a goodbye to her teen-aged years and the hedonistic accoutrements that came with those, all done with a confident smirk.

And then Lorde disappeared or I should say, took her time coming out with her third album. It took her four years to do her next one which turned out to be Solar Power. It had a quiet launch, largely because Lorde shuns social media. In this day and age, there is the belief that everybody in the entertainment business should be active in social media. How else will one get all those streams and likes and shares, etc. Not Lorde.

That is not the only thing she shuns. She claims to have also ditched the trappings of success. This is what she says in the track California. Listeners will surely pick out this one as the most commercial cut because of its pop melody but check out the lyrics and you will find Lorde, still as iconoclastic as ever. “Goodbye to all the bottles, all the models. Bye to the kids in the lines for the new Supreme. Don’t Want that California love.”

Lorde also takes on meditating, cleansing crystals, vitamins, eastern religions, horoscopes and other practices or fads that promise a better existence in Mood Ring. Remember those? The ring had a single stone that was said to change color depending on the wearer’s mood. I do not know if it really worked but it was hot for a while. Hot or not, Lorde made a great song out of it.

Solar Power disappointed me at first. It is not Lorde at all. But then, the album’s simple melodies have this trancelike effect that is so powerful and I found myself getting into the rhythm and understanding what she is trying to do. Lorde is making a call for mankind to return to nature. She has become an environmentalist. And her music says it so beautifully.

I say let us now do like sun goddess Lorde. Let us all breathe in, breathe out and love these songs. Let her lead you into the outdoors with The Path. Then enjoy the sun with Solar Power. Love your dog in Big star. Relax with Leader of a New Regime. Heal yourself with the therapeutic six-minuter Oceanic Feeling. And so on with Fallen Fruit, The Man with an Axe, Dominoes and the dishy confessionals, Stoned in the Nail Salon and Secrets from a Girl (Who’s seen It all).

Laid back, intimate, full of relatable sentiments, but lacking the fireworks of Pure Heroine and Melodrama, Lorde has taken a huge risk with Solar Power. But I say, give it a chance. We can all do with the respite it provides from what our world has become.

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