When the days are slow and the responsibilities scarce, the mind can’t help but wander to insecure places. Passing the time at home in New Zealand between albums, Lorde found herself falling into this mentality. Life had moved on without her: New teenage pop stars burned bright; TikTok became a thing; people got really into the Grateful Dead, again.
On the folksy “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” she latches onto this existential quandary, beginning with a radiant opening line: “Got a wishbone drying on the windowsill in my kitchen/Just in case I wake up and realize I’ve chosen wrong.” It’s one of her best lyrics yet, so tactile and earthy you can practically reach out and feel the fragile, sun-bleached collagen. But from there, the song becomes increasingly abstract. Intoxicated by acetone fumes, Lorde ruminates about fading beauty, the circularity of time, and losing touch with your past self. But her swings at profundity fall short—she is stoned, after all—and the understated production feels eerily reminiscent of another Jack Antonoff joint, Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club. “Stoned at the Nail Salon” is most compelling when Lorde lets her anxieties breathe, like when her voice catches midway through, leaving an empty space that’s immediately filled with a bass squiggle. Unfortunately, those moments are few, and in the end, “Stoned at the Nail Salon” feels stuck in a pretty, pedicured bubble.