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Lorde’s work here is done. Now, she vibes.

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Lorde, the singer and songwriter born Ella Yelich-O’Connor, in New York, July 22, 2021. Lorde’s third album, “Solar Power,” was made after a break during which the 24-year-old simply lived. (Photo: NYTimes)
It can be tempting, upon spending any extended amount of time around the musician Lorde, to wonder what is wrong with her.اضافة اعلان

That is, where exactly does she hide the bad parts, the off-notes, the unflattering bits of any personality that poke out awkwardly, especially after experiencing a trajectory as strange as hers? No one, famous and feted at 16, could possibly be so well-adjusted. Right?

It’s not even that the singer and songwriter born Ella Yelich-O’Connor, now 24, presents as especially perfect, or self-assured or immune to criticism. It’s not that she doesn’t suffer from second-guessing, insecurities, bouts of vanity, impatience or mindless cellphone scrolling.

But Lorde — the human and the artist — can usually be found one step ahead, intuitively and emotionally, having thought through her reality from most angles: how something felt to her, how she might express that, how it will be received and how she might process how she was interpreted. This is a skill set that many people who become known like she did — as a gifted small-town teenager with an out-of-the-gate smash success — can feign pretty well. But few do it as convincingly.

“I know enough to know that people in my position are symbols and archetypes and where we meet people, in the context of culture and current events, is sort of outside of our control, so I try not to fret too much,” Lorde said recently, with characteristic consideration and Zen, before the release of her third album.

“It’s a very funny position to be in,” she acknowledged. “It’s absurd.”

But it’s this sense of perspective and self-awareness that has kept Lorde going in an often unforgiving industry. In fact, she made an entire album about finding balance.

“Solar Power,” out Aug. 20, is what happens when a pop star outwits the system, swerves around its strange demands, stops trying to make hits and decides to whisper to her most devoted followers how she did it. For Lorde, the trick was having a life — a real life — far away from all of this. And also throwing her phone into the ocean. (A therapist didn’t hurt either.)

After the reign of “Royals,” her first single — which spent nine weeks at No. 1 and won two Grammys — and her three-times platinum 2013 debut “Pure Heroine,” Lorde took four years to release a follow-up. Her second album, “Melodrama,” in 2017, paled in comparison commercially, but it realigned out-of-whack expectations, establishing the singer as a phenom-turned-auteur, earning her rave reviews and another Grammy nomination, this time for album of the year. Then she hoarded four more years for herself.

Along the way, Lorde became an industry blueprint for a sort of world-building, precocious wallflower singer-songwriter, helping to usher in a generation including Halsey, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo. But Lorde hasn’t really stuck around to see it.

“I went back to living my life,” she said of her recent hiatus, identifying as “a hothouse flower, a delicate person and a massive introvert,” drained after a year-plus of promotion and touring for “Melodrama.” “It’s hard for people to understand that.”

Most of the past four years, though, Lorde lived as Ella among the greenery and waterfront splendor where she was raised, in and around Auckland, New Zealand, working to figure out her boundaries.

A friend from home, Francesca Hopkins, said, “That whole Lorde thing doesn’t and hasn’t really come up. I’ve probably said the word ‘Lorde’ maybe like — I can count it on one hand.”

The singer also began the process of addressing her internet addiction, inspired by books like Jenny Odell’s “How to Do Nothing” and Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.”

On “The Path,” the shimmering opening track of “Solar Power” that she wrote early on as a sort of thesis statement for the album, Lorde describes herself as “raised in the tall grass,” but also a “teen millionaire having nightmares from the camera flash.” “If you’re looking for a savior,” she warns, “well that’s not me.” But she offers a heady alternative: the sun.

“I’m aware of the way people look at me,” Lorde said. “I can feel the huge amount of love and devotion that people have for me — and for people in my position — and straightaway, I wanted to be like, ‘I’m not the one that’s worthy of your devotion. I’m essentially like you.’”

She continued: “My kids — my community — they’re expecting spiritual transcendence from me, from these works. ‘I need Lorde to come back and tell me how to feel, tell me how to process this period in my life!’ I was like, oh, man, I don’t know if I can help you with that. But what I do know is that if we all look up here, it’s going to help you a lot!”

What keeps “Solar Power” from feeling didactic or oversimplified are lyrics in which she satirizes her own experiences, grounding it in gossipy bits of detail and cutting lofty takes with humor, like when she interrupts a fragile treatise on aging with the line, “Maybe I’m … just stoned at the nail salon.”

The artist who once sang dismissively and from a distance about celebrity culture now notes her “trunkful of Simone and Céline” and time spent in hotels, at the Met Gala, the Grammys and on jets. “I’ve got hundreds of gowns, I’ve got paintings in frames,” she sings on “The Man With the Axe.” “And a throat that fills with panic every festival day/dutifully falling apart for the princess of Norway.”

But opting out, Lorde makes clear, just feels better. “Goodbye to all the bottles, all the models, bye to the kids in the lines for the new Supreme,” she adds on “California,” coming full circle back to her “Pure Heroine” ethos.

She vowed to never again reach for the heights of “Royals.” “What a lost cause,” she said. “Can you imagine? I’m under no illusion. That was a moonshot.”

But she’s found an ally in experimentation and Billboard-agnosticism in the producer and songwriter Jack Antonoff, with whom she also wrote and produced “Melodrama.”

“You make your first album with an amazing amount of joy because nothing exists,” Antonoff said. But he recalled the looming pressure that preceded the second Lorde LP, which resulted in the pair tucking themselves away to avoid the glare and resulted in the intimacy of “Melodrama.”

“Solar Power,” he said, came from a renewed sense of freedom. “The third album is a great place to do it — to wake up and be like, ‘I really love this work and I’m so lucky to be here.’ You just sort of reconnect with it. There was a lot of that.”

Lorde agreed. “I felt like I could just chill out and flex a little bit,” she said.

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