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Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life


Lana Del Rey - Lust For LifeSo summer’s here (kind of), Twin Peaks is back on TV (and oh boy is it fucking BACK) and everyone’s favourite unofficially-Lynchian songstress Lana Del Rey is also back with her long-awaited new album Lust For Life, with a cover that couldn’t look more ’70s if it tried. And she’s smiling. Of which more later.

Musically it’s a return to the epic production and lush orchestration that dominated 2012’s Born To Die, with the ghost of Phil Spector ever-present (I mean, I know he’s not actually dead, but as a human being I’d say he’s probably dead to most of us at this point. Genius for sure, but SRSLY fuck that guy), after the more minimal set-up of Ultraviolence and the slightly-underwhelming-though-wonderful-in-parts Honeymoon.

Lyrically, of course, it’s still very much dealing with all the familiar Del Rey tropes — love, loss, heartbreak, glamour, death, drugs and, obviously, what a TV talk show would no doubt refer to as Very Bad Men (And The Women Who Love Them). Oh, and America. Quite a lot of America. But this time round it’s a bit happier; there’s a bit more light at the end of the tunnel. A bit more lighting of candles and a tad less cursing of the darkness.

I mean, don’t get me wrong — it’s still melancholy as fuck, and she still hasn’t forgotten the rule that all great pop music, from The Ronettes to Abba, requires a core of sadness — FFS, this is an album that namechecks Charles Manson and contains the lines “I’m crying while I’m coming, making love while I’m making money, sobbing in my cup off coffee cuz I fell for another loser”, and which, on “Love”, always has the titular word accompanied by the sound of gunfire — so it’s not exactly what you’d call a laff riot.

There are just a few more endless summers, and a bit more hope that love might actually conquer all in the end. Instead of her usual Blue Velvet-esque “horror lies beneath the beautiful” schtick, we’ve got a more currently-appropriate “everything is horrible on the surface, let’s try to get some nice shit going on”. Case in point: “When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing”, the idealism of youth writ large. Or “God Bless America — And All The Beautiful Women In It”.

Her love of rock’n’roll culture has also thankfully not abated — so far I’ve spotted references to (and phrases cribbed from) Mötley Crüe, Neil Young, Elton John, Iggy Pop, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan… and there are almost certainly a lot more. She’s like Andrew Eldritch for that shit, and I love a musician who can acknowledge rock history. She’s even roped in some actual rock royalty to help out — Sean Ono Lennon duets on the heartbreaking “Tommorow Never Came”, and on “Beautiful People”, “Beautiful Problems”, she’s even got Stevie fucking Nicks! Because, yes, she’s stopped moping in her room and getting high by the beach on her own and let people into her world.

There are a bunch of collaborations on the album; in addition to the two already mentioned there’s the title track with The Weeknd, in which the pair get naked above the Hollywood sign, the delightfully languid but unfortunately-titled “Summer Bummer” with A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti, and the incredibly LDR-themed “Groupie Love”, again with A$AP Rocky.

OK, there’s a couple of clunky lines and mis-steps — like, rhyming “Coachella” with “hella” (or, indeed, anything at all) would be unforgivable for anyone else, and she only just about scrapes a pass on it from me based on the goodwill accrued from the rest of the album. But there’s nothing quite as on-the-nose as the literal reading of TS Eliot on “Honeymoon” or the stuff about how much beat poetry rocks on Ultraviolence.

But it seems churlish to end on a downer when discussing what is for the most part an awesome album. So let’s get crazy with the album’s standout track “Heroin”, as gleefully dark as anything she’s recorded, with mournful verses about break-ups, drug addiction and doomed youth countered with her traditional Bret Easton Ellis-esque hip nonchalance in the face of horror (“writing in blood on the walls ‘n shit”).

At the moment, that’s my favourite. But that’s the thing about Lana Del Rey — she makes records the way people did in a pre-iPod age, when albums meant something. They’ve all been growers; take a couple of listens to click. This time next week my favourite track could be something entirely different. I’m looking forward to finding out.

-Justin Farrington-

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