Lorde temporarily sent much of the internet haywire on Thursday her single “Solar Power” was temporarily uploaded and then almost instantly deleted from several streaming services. For many fans, even just the first taste of her third studio album, also titled Solar Power, was almost too much to bear. Up until Thursday night—2021’s only solar eclipse—it had been a full four years since Lorde dropped new music.
Not only did the song’s first 30 seconds suddenly become available; they began with the words “I hate the winter / can’t stand the cold.” Up until then, she’d cited the opposite type of inspiration: Lorde was so struck by her recent travels to Antarctica that she published a photo book to memorialize the visit. (Though the Solar Power album cover, somewhat controversially starring the singer’s butt, did hint at the pivot.)
From the look of the music video that eventually dropped on Thursday night (or Friday morning, in Lorde’s native New Zealand), Lorde will continue to stay clear of the arctic tundra. Instead of bundled up in negative temperatures, the video finds her leaping across a sunny beach, midriff on full display. It’s a much more fitting location for a day out cavorting with a cult, which is exactly what the video seems to depict. “I’m going to tell my kids this was Midsommar,” one YouTube user commented amassing 18,000 likes. Another compared the video to the ending of Mad Men.
But this version of outdoor Eden of enlightenment has a leader—one that describes herself as “kind of like a prettier Jesus.” In stark contrast to the somewhat drab flowy garments of the beachgoers—or, as she later called them, “lovers”—Lorde is outfitted in tight-fitting, sunny yellow, dancing. At one point, she’s offered a bong made of... fennel? (“I took your standard apple bong and made it a bit more chic, a bit more me,” she later explained, expressing her support for New Zealand’s effort to legalize cannabis.)
So, where did this new celestial Lorde come from? The singer offered some answers in a newsletter email accompanying the video. “There’s someone I want you to meet,” she wrote in her newsletter. “Her feet are bare at all times. She’s sexy, playful, feral, and free. She’s a modern girl in a deadstock bikini, in touch with her past and her future, vibrating at the highest level when summer comes around. Her skin is glowing, her lovers are many. I’m completely obsessed with her, and soon you will be too.”
As for her inspiration, it all came back to the environment. Solar Power is “a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalizing the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors,” she wrote. In fact, the act (and solace) of stepping outside has long been a direct inspiration: “In times of heartache, grief, deep love, or confusion. I look to the natural world for answers. I’ve learnt to breathe out, and tune in. This is what came through.”
And, according to Lorde, this special “someone” might be as relatable as her persona of an angsty suburban teen. The song—yet another collaboration between herself and Jack Antonoff—is more broadly about that infectious, flirtatious summer energy that takes hold of us all come June.” (Or, she added, in “December, if you’re a Southern Hemisphere baby like me but I know that’s literally IMPOSSIBLE for you all to wrap your little heads around so don’t worry about it!!)”
Will Solar Power Lorde, not to mention her “lovers,” stick around? There’s no word just yet—nor even an album release date—but apparently, “a truly comical amount of detail” is on its way.