Lana Del Rey’s fifth studio album, Lust for Life, releases today after much hype and excitement from its single releases and teases that Del Rey has treated fans to in the past months. On the new album, Del Rey finds a more positive attitude and outlook on life and gains confidence in her lyrics. She branches out thematically, still singing about love and the highs and lows of romance, but also featuring songs that take a more serious approach on issues like war, feminism, and other problems facing society.
As Lust for Life opens with ‘Love,’ a song about young love and its splendors, Del Rey’s production is as cinematic as ever – if not even better than on Honeymoon. She manages to capture love through a beautiful and noir scope, making ‘Love’ a track that features beautiful imagery that unfolds as the song progresses. As one would expect from Del Rey, the music video only adds to the retro beauty, leaving an unforgettable stamp on the album’s opener.
Del Rey teams up with The Weeknd for the album’s titular track, but ‘Lust for Life’ is not without its faults. The track is a jarring amalgamation of a Del Rey track and a Weeknd song. On this one, Del Rey’s dreamy, story-driven lyrics harken back to Born to Die. Unfortunately, the pre-chorus feels exactly like a regression to Del Rey’s first album than anything fresh or exciting.
The redundancy of lyrics “Take off, take off, take off all your clothes,” repeated throughout don’t propel the track forward, and this is made worse by the fact that the chorus itself is simply two lines repeated four times. The short verses are vivid and have so much potential that it ultimately feels as though the titular track is a let down compared to the grand approach it could’ve taken.
’13 Beaches’ finds Del Rey lamenting about living a life in the eye of the pesky paparazzi. It’s a bit of a reinvigorated ‘High By The Beach,’ mixed with some ‘Salvatore’ to great results. The chorus is resplendent, built up and racing after the pre-chorus. Del Rey confesses her feelings on the chorus, and her voice is more passionate than ever. A truly remarkable track.
‘White Mustang’ does what ‘Lust for Life’ couldn’t get right, making up for its repetitive chorus with beefy verses that paint a beautiful picture of the emotions Del Rey was feeling as she penned the song. Haunting whistles add that signature Americana sound to the track, boosted by the sounds of a motor revving on the outro. This is classic Lana Del Rey.
The self-proclaimed Gangsta Nancy Sinatra has taken a step further to infuse her dreamy-dark pop sound with some hip-hop/rapon Lust for Life with ‘Summer Bummer’. A pulsating and grinding beat permeates the track as Del Rey sings about an undercover lover during a summer escape. The real delight of this song comes near the bridge, as Del Rey sings more traditionally than the rest of the track’s trance-like state. The track is good, but considering its 4:19 runtime, there’s a lot of redundancy here that seems somewhat unnecessary, even if repetition is a running theme. Should it be a single, which is likely, a radio edit would easily fix this and get the track to shine.
Del Rey’s other A$AP Rocky collaboration is ‘Groupe Love.’ This is a more traditionally Lana Del Rey track with a dreamy production and imaginative lyrics that both paint a picture and tell a love story. While this track would be right at home on Lana’s past albums, it also feels like a nice progression from Honeymoon. Del Rey’s sound has evolved, and it’s apparent on this track. Her voice is resplendent and even restrained at times, showing a true care and craft in her vocal performance. It’s this evolution that takes the track to a new level — while her past songs were wonderful, some of them would have been better if sang with less of an affected voice. ‘Groupie Love’ proves this.
Del Rey is just out of a bad relationship on ‘In My Feelings,’ and as sad as her situation is, it’s made for one hell of an amazing track. She’s not jaded or emotional as the track may imply. She’s out for revenge. On the second verse she proudly proclaims: “I’m laughing as I’m taking my prisoners… I’m crying while I’m gunning, in the smoke they can hear me coming.”
Del Rey’s ‘National Anthem’ in the Lust for Life era is ‘God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It.’ It’s a very patriotic affair, and Del Rey manages to dabble in politics without impressing her views too harshly. The only ‘statement’ being made here is about loving and embracing all women. The song’s production is so grand and its lyrics are truly anthemic — not in the sense of when a song is good and memorable, but this actually sounds like an anthem. One of Lust for Life‘s best.
The more political heavy-handedness is featured on the track ‘When The World Was At War, We Kept Dancing.’ There’s very little symbolism here, and Del Rey is explicit in her thoughts: ‘Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America?’ It’s a dark and haunting track.
Del Rey’s duet with Stevie Nicks is nothing short of awe-inspiring. ‘Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems’ finds the pair remarking on love and life, and the ‘problems’ humanity finds in things. “We get so tired and we complain, bout how its hard to live,” Del Rey sings on the pre-chorus. Nicks joins in on the chorus, adding “Beautiful problems, God knows we’ve got ’em.” The track combines both artist’s sounds wonderfully, and they mesh perfectly. These two were a match made in music heaven.
Del Rey strips the pace back on ‘Cherry,’ using her sugary sweet imagery to create a track that’s dark and brooding.
‘Coachella — Woodstock In My Mind’ finds Del Rey at the Coachella Festival, reminiscing and feeling as if she were at Woodstock from the atmosphere. It’s a bit surreal to get a glimpse into her mind at moments like these.
‘Tomorrow Never Came’ features Sean Lennon, who also did much of the track’s instrumental. Speaking to Cortney Love in DAZED Magazine, Del Rey revealed she didn’t anticipate the song being for herself, but rather another artist. It’s easy to see why, because ‘Tomorrow Never Came’ is a bit out of Del Rey’s traditional style. Lennon adds his flair to the track, making the song’s vibe even further from what one would expect from Del Rey.
‘Change’ finds Del Rey singing about climate change of all things, and putting those to task who think its not worth their time to care about.
Del Rey sings a song about refocusing herself and being determined to live a more positive life on the album’s closer, ‘Get Free.’ It’s more uptempo than the rest of Lust for Life, with its chorus borrowing lyrics from ‘Ride’ off of Del Rey’s previous EP, Paradise. It’s a nicely done throwback, contrasting Del Rey’s message on Paradise and past albums to her new outlook.
Del Rey closes on a positive high, reminding listeners that she’s still in touch with the sound that skyrocketed her to fame, but she’s evolving and changing, too.