If Lust for Life’s album cover is anything to go by, it appears Lana Del Rey has finally chirped up after three albums of pensive ballads, downcast beats and sad, sad girls – or so it first appears…
There’s a distinct air of something unfamiliar from the opening song, ‘Love’, which oddly continues to remain a theme throughout the album. The first few songs are tinged with a misty air of optimism. Of course, it’s still wrapped in lush cinematic strings and melancholy piano chords but it’s noticeably present in the songstress’ lyrics as she encourages us to “hold onto our hope”.
However, this is a Lana Del Rey record. The stargirl’s gloom has become less introspective but her idealisation of the Californian coast has only slightly shifted since ‘National Anthem’, perhaps purely to reflect the atrocity of the current political situation across the pond and beyond, as she sings foreboding, “is it the end of America?”.
Duet-ting with the greats (the legendary Stevie Nicks) and the self-proclaimed starboys of the generation, Del Rey demonstrates that she can’t be easily outshined. While The Weeknd number works well and brings out a new, more hopeful, romantic side of Del Rey, some of the other features with A$AP Rocky seem to distract from what Lana Del Rey does best and lack the potency of her stronger songs such as ‘13 Beaches’ and ‘White Mustang’.
We already know that Lana Del Rey is a fan of the Hollywood dream and pop culture. However, Lust for Life’s specific references and name-drops are incongruous with the elegance of other moments on the album. At times, it feels ridiculous. Take ‘Tomorrow Never Came’ with Sean Ono Lennon, in which Del Rey interrupts a reflective atmosphere with the pantomime line, “isn’t life crazy? I said now that I’m singing with Sean”. Most probably the only time a Lana Del Rey song has ever made me laugh.
Luckily, the length of the album gives Del Rey enough time to produce some graceful, stylish musings, showcasing a tantalising and lingering voice that wraps around and embraces every note. Angsty yet defiant ‘In My Feelings’ is a different kind of highlight that demonstrates another side to Del Rey and invokes a whirlwind of fiery empowerment.
In the words of Del Rey herself on ‘Get Free’, she has produced a “modern manifesto”, a collection of odes to a disillusioned and despondent population. Lust for Life acknowledges our modern woes while reassuring us all is not completely lost, “there’s a change gonna come, I don’t know where or when but whenever it does we’ll be here for it”.
You tell them, Lana.
Photo credit: Idolator <http://www.idolator.com/tag/lana-del-rey>