2013 was a simpler time. After listening to quite terrible music for most of my life, I was introduced by my best friend at the time to what we called the holy trinity of the music industry: Lady Gaga, Marina and the Diamonds and Lana Del Rey. Four years later, my music taste has dramatically changed, but I still hold a special place in my heart, and in my Apple music history, for these artists that truly changed my perspective on life and happiness.
At the time I started to delve into her discography, Del Rey had released her debut LP “Born to Die” to incredible critical and social acclaim. It still holds the record for most copies sold of an alternative record, and you can always count on hearing “Summertime Sadness” every time you walk into Pacsun or American Eagle. Additionally, an extended EP entitled “Born to Die: The Paradise Edition” consisted of some beautiful tracks, including “Ride” and “Yayo.”
Shortly after, Del Rey released “Ultraviolence,” which is still my favorite of her albums. Her dreary, melodramatic vocals resonated with me, a discontented teen stuck in suburbia that retreated to the city every chance I could. “Brooklyn Baby, “Cruel World” and “Money, Power, Glory” are some of her best work.
After “Ultraviolence,” however, I have been continually disappointed by one of my former favorite artists. Her third full-length album, “Honeymoon,” was an absolute disaster. Other than “Music to Watch Boys To,” which is mediocre at best, each song was exhausting to listen to. They all muddled together with similar-sounding instrumentals and lyrics, and it felt as though Lana wasn’t even trying anymore as an artist.
This past July, Del Rey released “Lust for Life,” which is a dramatic change from her previous work. While her iconic gloominess is still apparent, the clouds appear to be slowly dissipating. As the title suggests, the album has a lighter tone, and is a stark contrast to the Lana Del Rey that discussed her discontentment with life in an interview following the release of “Ultraviolence.” While I am obviously enthusiastic about Del Rey’s new-found ‘Lust for Life’, her often-depressing lyrics were an essential aspect of her sound.
My first disappointment with the album is the missing collaboration with Marina and the Diamonds. A couple of months ago, a leaked setlist had revealed a song called “Dahlia” which featured Marina. Once I saw that tweet, I immediately broke down in tears, as I couldn’t believe that one of my dreams from years ago would possibly be fulfilled. Sadly, the song is not on the album, but I am hopeful that a collaboration is somewhere in the future.
Del Rey described her previous two albums as having a California sound, which is apparent in their dreamy, languid lyrics. However, “Lust for Life” is a representation of her New York City roots, as it is more upbeat, faster and less dreamy.
Its first promotional single, “Love,” treads familiar themes from her previous work, including nostalgia and an idealization of past American life. Del Rey argues that the romanticization of our culture in terms of love and affection facilitates young people in the world today in conquering adversity. Additionally, it diverges from previous sounds by preaching self-love, which contrasts to her often self-loathing nature in “Ultraviolence” and “Born to Die.”
“But you get ready, you get all dressed up / To go nowhere in particular. Back to work or the coffee shop / It don’t matter because it’s enough. To be young and in love.” The mundane nature of modern society values love over all other trivialities. While “Love” is not her best work, it is dramatically better than her “Honeymoon” era. The same friend that introduced me to Del Rey recently said she’s listened to “Love” exactly 282 times, and it is her go-to cry song. So clearly people like the direction Del Rey’s going.
The hope that “Love” gave me for the album as a whole sunk with the next four promotional singles. “Lust for Life,” the single, features The Weeknd, and while their voices go together beautifully, the track is repetitive and forgettable. “Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind” seems like a spontaneous addition to the album. I know Del Rey is a fan of ’50s and ’60s America, but glamorizing a past that was filled with so many issues gets tiring very quickly.
All hope is not lost on “Lust for Life.” There are some truly excellent tracks embedded in the middle of the album. “Cherry” is my personal favorite, as it describes Del Rey coming to terms with the fact that real love is never easy. It reminds me of older Lana vibes while expanding on her sound through a faster pace. “Cause I love you so much, I fall to pieces” is such a resounding lyric for me. Love truly tears you apart, and Del Rey is no exception to its hardships.
While “Lust for Life” is certainly not her best album to date, it gives me hope for the future of Lana Del Rey, both in terms of her happiness and in her music. I think that if she is able to combine her new sound with her melodramatic past, she’ll only continue to grow as an artist. Trying to conform to pop music norms will only result in her losing true fans.
I would absolutely love to see Del Rey live one day. Unfortunately, she seems to have an aversion to performing in New York City, her home. She’s performing here for the first time in years this October, but my die-hard friend and I were not able to get tickets due to a malfunction on her site. My friend is considering suing the site so we can go for free, and I will be sure to keep the dear readers of The Miscellany News Arts section updated on this case. But for now, don’t just listen to that terrible “Summertime Sadness” remix, but explore all of the sounds and ideas that this profound artist represents. I promise you won’t regret it.