Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All) – A Lorde Retrospective

As with other forms of content, music allows for a conversation to be had between the artist and audience in which the artist is allowed to express themselves and the worlds they live in. As with the best filmmaker filmographies or artist oeuvres, a career can therefore very naturally capture the evolution of an artist as they mature and change. While this is nothing new to recognize or appreciate by either the artist or the audience with some like Adele even directly calling attention to it in the naming of her albums, it is hard to argue many artists have embraced this idea as much as Lorde. While somewhat sporadic, a Lorde album always promises to bring a new style and voice that reflects the moods and emotions the New Zealand artist is facing. Obviously self-aware, Lorde’s newest album Solar Power brings this journey to a grand climax in a way rarely seen in any form of artistic expression. Yet before one can appreciate the current, one has to understand the past.

One of the richest elements of Lorde’s journey is the scope in which that journey encompasses. Signing with UMG at only 13 and releasing her first EP at 16, Lorde’s journey to today takes her through all the complexities and nuances which is adolescence. This is a period in life that media has become obsessed with trying to capture, yet often these efforts are lacking. It is a time of diastrophism on nearly every level as radical changes and new emotions are born through violent expressions. There is nothing like this time yet with elegance, Lorde captures it flawlessly. As she herself is experiencing these emotions, she puts her experiences into her songs with an authenticity that carries a venom so authentic that it is almost scary at times. Her debut album Pure Heroine is littered with the fears and anxiety she is facing at the time. From the fear of growing up expressed within Ribs to the fear of entering a world filled with conflict and evil which is expressed in Buzzcut Season.

Pure Heroine catches on like fire with a universal relatability that speaks to an authentic core of the human experience never truly expressed in this way before. One thing that is important to remember is that these songs are not by that of an adult reflecting on what is to come. These are the emotions of a teenage girl. The songs are filled with melodrama and confusion, yet that is the exact experience of being a teenager. There is a roughness that only helps further prove the authenticity of the work. Ironically enough, Lorde would release her next album Melodrama four years later.

Melodrama shows the world a new Lorde. Now 21 with a fresh maturity found, Melodrama is filled with sorrow and doubt. As Lorde transitions from childhood to adulthood, she finds herself overwhelmed by relationships and heartbreak which once again connects with audiences across the globe. As suggested by the title of the album, Lorde is now fully aware of the trivial nature of these emotions, but it doesn’t stop the pain from hurting. Below the waves of sadness, something is brewing however that might just change Lorde’s career forever. The magic of Lorde’s music is how universal it feels. Listening to Lorde express herself carries weight for audiences who feel the same, yet Lorde’s life is quickly becoming vastly different from the average individual. Touring the world and becoming one of the biggest pop stars of today, Lorde’s life is filled with experiences and stresses the average listener can only dream of. There is a disconnection growing between Lorde and the audience.

This disconnection becomes clear with her third album Solar Power. Now 25, Lorde is in the process of reflection and self-discovery. She fills her summer album with songs showing her quest for happiness and her rejection of toxic values. It is a spiritual album that values emotional health and spirituality over wealth or material goods. While the album still finds plenty of fans, it noticeably has less of an impact than her previous works with some feeling as if the hyperfocus on Lorde’s place in life simply doesn’t speak to them like her old music. For many reasons, this is quite a shame. Not only is the album beautifully put together, but narratively it is where Lorde’s discography elevates itself to new heights.

Similar to this very article, in order to find who she is today, Lorde looks to the past. From the song California where Lorde directly references her experience rising through the music industry to the titular track Solar Power where Lorde questions the depression she faced growing up, this album is a personal daydream of reflection. This is seen nowhere better than in Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All). The song sees Lorde directly speaking to herself, specifically her younger self. Lorde now is an adult and is not just reflecting on the past, but is striking a conversation with it. From using old lyrics to showing versions of her younger self meeting her current self in the music video for the track, Lorde is embracing who she was for better or for worse and is giving a message that everything is going to be ok. From the fears of growing up to the sorrow of being 21, everything is going to be ok.

Perhaps that is why Solar Power is so special. For fans of Lorde who have followed her since the beginning, Solar Power marks the first true time where it feels like Lorde has found peace and happiness. While there are still doubts and uncertainties as seen in works like Stoned at the Nail Salon, Lorde has settled down and seemingly found who she is. This carries a poignance that is only heightened after the years of development and growth seen through her previous albums. This honestly and this journey makes the discography of Lorde a rich and meaningful journey that is further impactful for those who grew up alongside the artist. It is an artistic expression that is alive and growing. As Lorde continues to age, her music will continue to reflect these changes and emotions providing a dissertation on modern human development unlike any other.

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