Lana Del Rey’s fifth studio album, Lust for Life was released July 21, 2017. This record proves Lana’s massive presence as a vocalist, poet, and multi talented artist. She is an artist who has truly honed in on her own strong signature sound. Over her first few records, she created a niche, characterized by classic, cinematic, and edgy pop with deeply sensual tendencies. Lust for Life holds true to her sound and explores strange dichotomies, like those between insanity and glamor, deep poetry and old cliches, apathy and emotion, eroticism and sophistication, and fantasy and reality.
The record’s opener “Love” is one of the only singles that does not contain a hip hop feature. The track possesses her characteristic, Zoloft-like haziness and lyrically could serve as a predecessor to “Young and Beautiful”. There is warm, vintage overtone to the record, with a fuzzy patience that is almost catatonic at times. Because of Lana del Rey’s unique approach to a vintage sound, she has become a sonic game changer. Her dark but subtle twists on vintage melodies take her music to a progressive and timeless place.
“Lust for Life (ft. The Weeknd)” is another of the record’s romance centered singles. This title track is a love song rooted in reckless adoration. Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd share a similarly haunting, avant-garde sensuality. There is a slight space motif interspersed throughout the album that coincides with the spaciness of her voice. It can be heard especially on dreamy hooks like “take off all your clothes” where her sweetness and feigned innocence become alien after a certain amount of repetition. Her and The Weeknd have an almost disturbing chemistry and a perfect sense of synchronicity that will make fans of either swoon.
“13 Beaches” is one of the record’s most gorgeous tracks that has yet to be featured as a single. It begins with a vocal sample from the 1962 horror film “Carnival of Souls” and slowly layers classic, despondent pianos with symphonic, tearful strings. Lonely, beautiful imagery and simple declarations create contrast against the background of her always stunning tone. She is able to create different vocal environments that evoke both warmth, coolness, dizziness, or vertigo.
As the album spins along to “Cherry,” the riffs shift, creating an ambiance that is sometimes copacetic, sometimes haunting. Guitars cry against a backdrop of sparingly used percussion to establish a slow dance like movement. “White Mustang” shares the same classic imagery. With allusions to the next track “Summer Bummer,” this song makes it clear that ‘Lust for Life’ will not be a standard summer record. It has the hazy and humid attitude of real life summers not depicted in glamorous old postcards and magazines.
“Summer Bummer (ft A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti)” is another single given modern edge by a hip hop feature.This rap presence is a natural progression for Lana and for pop music in general. The dramatic beat followed by Lana’s orgasmic, breathy voice is sexy as hell, only enhanced by the record’s buttery smooth engineering. “Groupie Love (ft. A$AP Rocky)” follows. She sings of her adoration for the rockstar bad boy and A$AP stands out boldly both times he is featured.
“In My Feelings” explores more of the modern urban themes that ‘Lust for Life’ stretches to include. Static sounds and dangerous moods are layered behind half spoken and lazily sung words that could have easily fallen from the lips of a lounge goddess, stretched across a baby grand in high slit satin. Hip hop beats and theatrical vocalizations create a sense of drama that differs from Lana del Rey’s previous work but is still true to her sound.
“Coachella – Woodstock in My Mind” is a single that serves as an admission of her own almost delusionally romantic fantasy that was established through the first half or the album. She evokes a nostalgia and ever present longing for the past despite recognizing that life is not the old photo we wish it to be. There is a percussive energy and an anthemic presence on this track, but it is still not totally grounded in reality.
This record will swell Lana’s cult following but will also be well received on the pop circuit. “God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women In It” begins with warmly held piano chords and subtle drums. On this song, as it often is with Lana, the vocal serves as the centerpiece. A sample vague enough to be either a stomp or gunshot on the chorus is her take on politics, but the track is still romantically paced and full of potent imagery.
“When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing” continues this political but dreamy motif. Birdlike, wandering, and sliding tones paired with her stunning range evoke powerful stories and emotions. This slightly political second half of the record contains more tracks which have not been released as singles yet. Though they are not featured as singles, the presence of these tracks is still important and not surprising. It has a subtle, slightly sedated feel that allows nothing to ever become too deeply modern or political.
On “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems (ft. Stevie Nicks)” piano chords and breezy sounds open a much-awaited duet. Their voices are a great fit together, with grand croons and tender feminine whispers traded throughout the feature. Both women evoke the same feeling of mysterious, kinetic sensuality and dizzy, magical disconnect from reality.
“Tomorrow Never Came (ft. Sean Ono Lennon)” is another feature that conceptually makes sense on this vintage themed record. Acoustic guitars and warbled cooing take listeners back to the past. Sean’s tone is strange but their voices work together and his familial history is a story much in line with themes Lana uses. There are lyrics that nod to classic rock, cinema, and other vintage themes throughout the record. There are several longer songs over five minutes on this album, something that was heard more in the Woodstock era to which she does.
“Heroin” is almost the end of the record, a fitting metaphor for life. Obscenities break a facade that is too beautiful at times. Fuzzy, low fi sounds and eerie echoing precede a cinematic build. In the case of heroin, a dreamy sound and beautiful poetry are like red lipstick brushed on brash reality. ‘Lust for Life’ is structured in a way that tells a true, rock and roll love story. It doesn’t omit the grit or sexuality that exists behind the curtains.
“Change” is more conclusive, nearing the end of the record’s story. It is not overtly rebellious but it fits the issues America is dealing with today. The mistrust for authority present nearly rivals the Vietnam War era so this album is extraordinarily well timed. Though “Change” is the most political track on the record, there is still a listless woe present in lyrics like “it’s just someone else’s job to care.”
“Get Free” closes the record with an echoey sound reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Her declaration “this is my commitment, my modern manifesto” could be a statement about the nature of the record. ‘Lust for Life’ is about as much of a political manifesto as one could expect from Lana Del Rey. Loaded with big name features, and immense, cinematic sound, ‘Lust for Life’ shows the sensual artistry Lana Del Rey embodies perfectly. It will be difficult for another pop artist to rival this too cool summer release.
To purchase Lana Del Rey’s new album, click here!