Who is Lorde in 2021?
That is what a lot of fans will want to know. They're eager to analyse every hidden message of her new song.
When Solar Power dropped yesterday, following an apparent unplanned leak, it was the first proper glimpse into the singer's life we've had in years.
It can be tempting as a fan to demand to know everything and treat the musicians we listen to like vehicles into personal experience. It is clear Ella Yelich-O'Connor will only let us see as much as she wants us to.
Allow the artist to reintroduce herself. In her own words, the Solar Power persona is "sexy, playful, feral, and free". It's a stark contrast to when she first burst onto the scene with Royals in 2013.
Eight years later, she sings about a new state of mind. Lorde is in love and wants the world to know she's doing just fine, and she adores the beach.
It never seemed like Lorde wanted to have the fame and the pressure of being a mainstream popstar. Her social media blackout reflected this: most of what we heard from her in past years were beautifully written email newsletters, which seemed like messages in a bottle more than computer-typed essays.
With an artist as poetic as Lorde, there's always a deeper meaning behind the lyrics. To attempt to understand Solar Power, you have to go back to her last album for clues.
"I hate the headlines and the weather," she sings in Melodrama closer Perfect Places. In her ballad Liability, she ends the track with "you're all going to watch me disappear into the sun."
A few years ago, Lorde was far more of a public figure than she is now. She was roasting Diplo for his comments about Taylor Swift. She was on a world tour. She was active on Twitter. Then came her retreat (well, besides her onion rings review account)
The Solar Power era presents a new side of the Grammy-winner who grew up in Takapuna. She traded the sombre city nights of Melodrama's break-up tracks to prance around a beach like a dancing queen. It's her new era of confidence, and you only have to hear liken herself to a prettier Jesus to realise that.
Lorde still has some gripes with the weather, but is specific about the season this time: "I hate the winter, can't stand the cold (So sorry, I can't make it.)"
The artwork seems to be all that disgruntled Facebook commenters want to talk about, but the photo was her choice to release. It also tells a lot about what Lorde wants us to know about her. Her cheeky album art was another signpost to who she wants us to know her as.
If you have a problem with a woman consensually showing some skin in 2021 then I implore you to keep your trolling to yourself. I imagine the singer couldn't care less either.
Lorde's solar power is shedding her heartbreak and trading lonely break-up ballads for a beach-backdropped bop.
"The girls are dancing in the sand / and I throw my cellular device in the water. Can you reach me? No you can't," she sings, laughing off the world's demand for her to share every moment.
It remains to be seen just how much we will learn about Lorde's life when the new record comes out, but she's dangled some hints.
"I've learnt to breathe out, tune in. This is what came through," she wrote in a note to fans yesterday. The record will be her response to hiding out in New Zealand and embracing her roots.
Although she promises "a comical amount of detail", fans have to remember she will only tell us what she wants us to know. We may think we know everything about her personal life, but that's exactly what she wants us to believe.
Lorde's hot girl summer character is carefree and smiling, I get the impression she wants us to "butt out" of her personal life. She's too busy having fun to care what we think.