Listen to “Mood Ring” by Lorde

In the starry-eyed newsletter Lorde sent announcing Solar Power, her third studio album, the pop star introduced her fans to a new persona: “Her feet are bare at all times. She’s sexy, playful, feral, and free. She’s a modern girl in a deadstock bikini… Her skin is glowing, her lovers are many. I’m completely obsessed with her, and soon you will be too.” The prose was rapturous, romantic in a way that seemed almost unhinged, to the point that I seriously contemplated whether it had been ghostwritten by Caroline Calloway. Lorde has presented Solar Power as an opportunity to dethaw, a beach soundtrack that reflects her “unending search for the divine”—but something about this framing has felt off. The “Solar Power” music video was so eerily sanitized and optimistic that it seemed like the kind of thing the younger Lorde, a keen critic of societal excesses, would have skewered gleefully.

On her latest single, “Mood Ring,” Lorde is still breezy—urging the ladies to begin their sun salutations and invoking all the tenets of pseudo-spiritual wellness culture: astrology, crystals, sage-burning—but she’s firmly emphasized the song is satire. “Don’t you think the early 2000s seem so far away?” she wonders cheekily, while pulling from a blissed-out palette that evokes roughly the same era, music that sounds like you’re about to start your day with a breakfast of fat-free yogurt (see: Natasha Bedingfield, Natalie Imbruglia). There are some witty lines, like a trifling complaint that her mood is “as dark as my roots.” But, in the context of the prior singles, it’s yet another song that’s less exciting than hoped for; plus, for someone who’s previously been so ahead of the curve, this critique of wellness culture seems pretty trite.