Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon, her fourth studio album, is a resplendent and beautiful progression of the singer’s baroque sadcore pop. Lana is still the tortured artist fans have come to love — Honeymoon‘s themes range from lust, romance, and of course violence and heartache. An artist like Lana Del Rey is rare; her talent and beauty are the yin to the yang of her broken past and mental suffering. She comes together to form the perfect damsel in distress or even a mythological Siren. All the mystery and dark allure that surrounds her only adds to the magnificence of her persona. The enigma surrounding her is something she’s been able to maintain since 2012’s Born to Die.
Del Rey’s hardcore fans will find her less inscrutable; her music offers an unfiltered and intimate glimpse into her past, her mind, and her hopes and dreams. While Honeymoon sticks to the issues Lana knows best, she has a new outlook that feels more realistic than pessimistic. The titular track is cinematic in production and, despite it’s nearly six minute run, is Del Rey at her most brooding and pensive. She savors the honeymoon phase, where all comes up roses, but knows for certain the violence and darkness that surrounds her lover will eventually come for her.
“Music To Watch Boys To” stands out in Del Rey’s discography for an unlikely reason: she is unfazed at the loss of these boys. “I see you’re going, so I play my music watch you leave,” she seductively sings, adding later “I see you leaving, so I push record and watch you leave.” Lana is content in the fact that she has made beautiful music from the loss of past loves, and it’s a feat that is growing tiresome to the singer. She gets into her routine, lets the boy go and records some new music to soothe her soul. The personal and lyrical growth of Del Rey as a musician is most noticeable on this track.
Lana’s favorite track from Honeymoon is the jazz inspired “Terrence Loves You”, sampling David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and referencing it with lyrics like “Ground control to Major Tom / Can you hear me all night long?” She takes her critics and the media to task on “God Knows I Tried”. “On Monday they destroyed me, but by Friday I’m revived.” With her fame has come suffering that she could not have imagined, and although she has much to be thankful for, she still longs for true happiness. “Let there be light / light up my life,” she pleas to her god, seeking knowledge, peace and enlightenment to handle the criticisms. “God Knows I Tried” is a heartfelt request to find solace from her pain.
Del Rey’s battle with the media’s perception of her continues on “High By The Beach”. Lana finds freedom and escape by the beach, but her ability to enjoy solitude is hampered by her fame. Like on “Music To Watch Boys To”, Lana is focused more on her own needs and less on those of her man. “We won’t survive, we’re sinking into the sand,” she remarks casually, furthering her point in the song’s bridge with the lyrics “I’ll do it on my own / don’t need your money, to get me what I want.” The song’s outro is a haunting, spoken word testament to being driven to success as a means of revenge. The fire may burn her, but like a phoenix from the ashes, Lana will rise unharmed and avenge her broken heart.
Just as “God Knows I Tried” segued “High By The Beach” to take the media to task, “High By The Beach” and its affinity for the west coast transitions to Honeymoon‘s third single, “Freak” and its California sex appeal. Lana’s love for her new flame burns hot as she tries to entice him to join her in California. Given Lana’s taste for older men, it’s not surprising that her beau isn’t as wild as she. “Your halo’s full of fire, I’m rising up, rising up. My hot love’s full of fire,” Lana ascends to ecstasy with her man; his purity is alluring and she hopes his love for her will tempt him into being a freak like her, wild and free.
As Honeymoon progresses, Lana falls victim to her old vices on “Religion”. She finds herself completely devoted to her man, worshipping him like a religion. Her lover has more of a cult-like hold on her, and Lana’s friends have warned her of how hard she has fallen. Even Lana herself realizes that, although times are pleasant now, the guy she has devoted herself to will eventually come to harm her. “Even when the storm comes, in the eye we’ll stay,” she sings sanguinely. Lana sings “Religion” both to the man to whom she is devoted as a sign of her further affection, but also to herself as a way to find comfort from the impending doom she knows will soon be upon her.
Of all the tracks on Honeymoon, “Salvatore” is in a league of its own. The multiple layers to the song and its dark, yet airy production make it nothing short of a masterpiece. Salvatore (Italian for Savior) is a man in Lana’s life, likely real-life boyfriend Francesco Carrozzini, and while the two of them may not always be together, Lana knows their love is meant to be. On “Salvatore”, Del Rey is flirtatious and jovial with her bad boy savior.
Happiness is short-lived, and “The Blackest Day” finds Del Rey grieving the loss of a relationship gone wrong. She sings the blues, desperate to be back in her lover’s arms before realizing her loss is just a phase. She is on her own, but that may very well be for the best. With the destructive lovers that have wrecked her heart in the past, independence may just be what Lana needs to learn what true joy is meant to feel like.
Honeymoon draws to a close with the aptly titled “24”, wherein Del Rey dwells on the hours in a day and the time she’s lost mourning a love gone by. On “Swan Song”, Lana contemplates leaving her music behind her to be happy with her man as she longs for a life of leisure and freedom. Like Ultraviolence‘s “The Other Woman”, Honeymoon closes with another Nina Simone cover: “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. Once again, Del Rey’s vocals are inspired on the track, and the jazz sound encompasses and summarizes the mood of Honeymoon nicely.
Lana Del Rey returns to the sound that skyrocketed her to notoriety on Honeymoon. Her latest release shows a clear and calculated growth and progression that should be admired, even if Honeymoon lacks the more mainstream production that her debut had. Del Rey continues to refine her sound and doesn’t care about being radio friendly. In fact, the less the media pays attention to her, the happier she is.