Lorde fans have been waiting for that green light for some time – its been just under four years now since the New Zealand artist released her second album ‘Melodrama’. Though the singer’s confirmed she’s working on the follow-up, it’s been hard to predict when it might arrive. Until now, that is!
Firstly, Lorde’s live return was made official, with a key festival date – Primavera – confirmed for 2022. Then came Primal Scream-inspired new single ‘Solar Power’ And now she’s confirmed the album will also be called ‘Solar Power’, that it’s coming on August 20 and shared a tracklist. Here’s how we got here – and everything we know about it so far.
What new Lorde music is already out there?
Lorde’s recently-updated website assured fans they wouldn’t have to wait long to hear the first taster of her next era. “Arriving in 2021…” the text read, adding: “patience is a virtue”. It was accompanied by what turned to be the cover art for a new release called ‘Solar Power’, which shows the singer skipping across a fisheye beach.
This fuelled speculation about exactly when ‘Solar Power’ might land. Fan noticed that a solar eclipse was taking place on June 10 for parts of the Northern Hemisphere, pointing out that the new artwork shows Lorde obscuring the sun.
On December 4, there’s another solar eclipse taking place over Antarctica – which would seem to fit in well with Lorde’s recent adventures and chilly influences (more on those later). So when would it be?
It turned out to be June 10: the five star NME review hailed the ‘Screamadelica’-style song as “a gorgeous, sun-kissed rebirth” that’s quietly but supremely confident.” It’s all very very promising for the new album.
What’s Lorde said about ‘Solar Power’?
Well, according to the artist, album three has been named since last year. She’s revealed that the inspiration for the album title came to her on a trip to Antarctica in 2019 – but wouldn’t share it. “I actually decided on the album name right around that trip,” she said, dangling a carrot. “Just coming back from that trip I thought: ‘This is what it is.’
Last year, she told Blackbird Spyplane that the ongoing corona-virus pandemic had made it even more difficult than usual to pin down a rough release date. “I’m telling people that something is taking shape,” she said cryptically. “More than ‘taking shape’ – something is; there’s a thing. But, you know, I really take my time, and I like to know the whole universe, the whole cinematic universe for what I’m making, so I’m in that process right now. I don’t know how much more I want to say. It’s such a kooky year in terms of knowing anything about timing, but I guess with me, as an artist generally, no one ever knows when anything’s coming anyway…”
In a statement, she also explained: “The album is a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalizing the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors. In times of heartache, grief, deep love, or confusion, I look to the natural world for answers. I’ve learned to breathe out, and tune in. This is what came through.”
That artwork’s quite a lot, eh?
“It was just me jumping over a friend on the beach…” Lorde said on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. “It’s a little hardcore, but it was so joyful to me. It felt innocent and playful and a little bit feral.” Fair enough!
When did Lorde start working on her third album?
Lorde told fans that her third album was “in the oven” back in June 2019, but it’s possible she’s been working on it for longer than that.
Towards the end of 2019, work on the album paused as Lorde updated fans again. In another newsletter, she explained that she was taking a break following the death of her dog, Pearl. “ I’m asking for your patience, as 2020 comes around and you start to wonder where the next record is,” she continued. “I have lost my boy, and I need some time to see the good again, to finish making this for you. It won’t be the same work — as anyone who has felt loss can understand, there’s a door that opens that you step through, and everything is different on the other side. But when this great loss crystallizes inside me, and my chest rebuilds around it, hopefully I’ll be able to finish up, and share it with you, and we’ll all grow together, as we always do.”
A year later, Lorde told fans that work on LP3 resumed after a month’s break. “I started going back to the studio in December, just for something to do, and to my surprise, good things came out,” she wrote in a surprise newsletter in May 2020. “Happy, playful things. I felt my melodic muscles flexing and strengthening.”
Who’s she working with?
‘Melodrama’’s main collaborator Jack Antonoff again, with work taking place in both Auckland and Los Angeles pre-pandemic. “Jack came over to work in the studio in Auckland, and I went to LA,” Lorde wrote in a newsletter. “It flowed. A thing started to take shape. And then, of course, the world shut down,” she added. “We’re still working away — Jack and I FaceTimed for over an hour this morning going over everything. But it’ll take a while longer.”
Malay has also been working with Lorde in some capacity, telling Reverb last year: “I’ve been heavily on the new Lorde project.“ The American producer, best known for his work with Frank Ocean on ‘Blonde’, produced three tracks on her last album ‘Melodrama’ after meeting her late in the process. This time, he said, “we actually started from zero together, which is really unique and fun. But like I said, she’s another one of those, like a Frank Ocean, where she has an insane vision, and she is not going to compromise whatsoever. So that’s why I said it could be some time, especially because of the pandemic, and she’s in New Zealand.”
What will it sound like?
In 2018, Lorde told fans about her creative explorations in a newsletter, and hinted at her early thoughts around the sound of album three. “I haven’t started properly on the next record yet, and I’m not sure how long it’ll be,” she wrote. “But I’ve been teaching myself how to play piano, and here and there little bits come out. I think this next one will probably be born around the piano in my house, me and my friends, keeping it simple… But know that for now I’m happy here at home, living quietly and simply, eating toast, going for walks, swimming. And you’ll hear all about it soon enough.” We’re still waiting!
Any other clues?
A trip to Antarctica in February 2019 has also inspired the Kiwi musician – she’s publishing photographs from the trip in her upcoming book Go South. It sounds like she had a lovely time, too: Lorde told Blackbird Spyplane that she was given an Antarctica-themed patch by a pilot on the flight there in exchange for singing ‘Royals’ over the headphone mic, and raved about Antarctica’s gift shop (who knew!) “It’s cool to have things from a place I can never go again,” she said. While there, Lorde camped on a giant ice shelf, sawed ice bricks and learned how to make fires.
“Antarctica really acted as this great white palette cleanser, a sort of celestial foyer I had to move through in order to start making the next thing,” she wrote in a newsletter confirming the book. “In the plane coming down to land, I had this very intense bolt-of-lightning thought, which in all its eloquence was literally: ‘DON’T MAKE SHIT RECORDS’”.
In recent months, Lorde has also revived @onionringsworldwide, her Instagram account where she reviews onion rings. A sign of things to come, or an indicator that she’s got more time on her hands because she’s finished the album? Only time will tell.
Is she touring?
Nothing’s been announced just yet – but given that Lorde has announced her first live show in two years, and it feels unlikely that Primavera 2022 will be a one-off.
Anything else we need to know?
As the album is a celebration of the “natural world”, Lorde’s offering an alternative the CD format in favour of a pioneering ‘Music Box’ release that will also include extra visual content, handwritten notes, exclusive photos and an album download. “I decided early on in the process of making this album that I also wanted to create an environmentally kind, forward-thinking alternative to the CD,” she’s said. “I wanted this Music Box product to be similar in size, shape and price to a CD, to live alongside it in a retail environment, but be something which stands apart and that’s committed to the evolving nature of a modern album.”
Finally, does the single ‘Solar Power’ sound a bit Primal Scream to you?
It does! The good people of the internet spotted this to, and so Zane Lowe put the notion to Lorde in an Apple Music interview. “I had never heard Primal Scream in my life,” Lorde said. “I’d been told to check them out. “I wrote the song on the piano and then we realised it sounds a lot like ‘Loaded’. It’s just one of those crazy things that they just were the spiritual forebears of the song.”
And Primal Scream? They’ve said they “love” Lorde’s single. N’aww!