Comment Editor Emily Baldwin reviews Lorde’s new single, ‘Stoned At The Nail Salon’, describing it as an ode that feels particularly pertinent to those of us coming of age in such a time of isolation
It is the summer of 2021. You are back in your childhood bedroom after 18 months of job insecurity, friendship loss, incessant media consumption and some soul-destroying, solitary experiences of isolation. It is a time of global change, yet you remain in the same place: 18 months older but feeling like a teen again. It is this atmosphere of melancholy, nostalgia, optimism and growth that Lorde seamlessly encapsulates in the newest single from her upcoming album Solar Power: ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’.
Written and produced in collaboration with Jack Antonoff and featuring backing vocals from a number of bedroom pop’s lockdown favourites, including Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo, ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ is a eulogy for the time spent and experiences gained through young adulthood. With its scaled-back production, echoing vocals, lackadaisical feel and distinctly Lorde lyrics, it is an ode that feels particularly pertinent to those of us coming of age in such a time of isolation.
If listening from a distance, one would be forgiven for mistaking ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ for a track from Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club or St Vincent’s Daddy’s Home – Antonoff’s ardent commitment to lyric-focused folk-like tracks is ever the clearer. Yet, with smoky themes of nostalgia, adolescence and time, there is no denying that the meditative musings, delivered with the humility of a representative of a hyper-informed generation, are very much those of Lorde. ‘I don’t know,’ she admits, ‘maybe I’m just stoned at the nail salon’.
The song carefully services both Lorde’s experiences and the listeners. No longer the fiery teen icon of rebellion and suburban disillusionment, Lorde looks inwards at her newfound stillness. Lorde looks back at her teens from a position of domesticity that allows for house plants, pets and long term plans: the kind of stability impossible to maintain while touring the world and ruminating in teenage angst. Yet, through the lines ‘I love this life that I have […] But I wonder sometimes what I’m missing’, she acknowledges the inevitable losses associated with the choices one makes as one gets older. Although relevant to many artists barred from the whirlwind life of touring and performing, the song also rings true to the experiences of many young people who, upon reaching adulthood, come to grips with the life they may need to live. The optimistic ‘White Teeth Teens’ have bills to pay, families to take care of, and careers to build. Lorde comforts, and calls to, the generation of ‘hell raisers’ who lived by her music, solemnly acknowledging the pull of domesticity and responsibility.
Like the fragmented thoughts of a big sister scribbled down on a napkin and shoved into your purse, Lorde gifts us with the musings of a mentor. ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ is a reminder that it is okay to change, to ‘cool down,’ even if that involves sitting in the sticky leather chair of the nail salon and wondering how on earth you got there. After all, although ‘the music you loved at sixteen you’ll grow out of’, revisiting it as a young adult that made it through such tough times is like reaching out a hand to your younger self and telling them it will all be okay. It is this feeling of nostalgia, loss and aspiration that Lorde’s lullaby-like single so perfectly encapsulates.
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