Del Rey steps beyond conventions

Lana Del Rey is a rare type of artist, finding mainstream success with a gloomy, hazy sound and lyrical poetry. Her latest album enti­tled “Honeymoon” was released on Sept. 18. It’s her fourth studio album and third album from a major label. This experience has granted her time to fully develop her sound and character. And al­though “Honeymoon” has no bestselling hits, it’s a thematically consistent, narrative album.

The titular track, “Honeymoon,” opens the album with images of love on a sleepy note. It takes a few songs to warm up to Del Rey’s style. Throughout the album, the couple depicted in the songs has its ups and downs. Consistently, Del Rey is a dutiful lover, despite the emotional pain and sorrow her lover inflicts upon her. “God Knows I Tried” most effectively and beautifully captures Del Rey’s emotional state. Like on other songs, Del Rey bemoans her relationship with fame. The song epitomizes the album’s ability to romantical­ly marry sadness and hope. It feels hopeful, both like a prayer and a confession, flashing a feeling Del Rey hardly ever shows: contentment.

“Honeymoon” has few bouncy songs; instead it offers a slow, mellow trip for its listeners. “Freak,” one of the few upbeat songs on the album, is a standout with a fun, memorable chorus. The song’s content is less original, but it’s neverthe­less addicting. Her breathy vocals carry a sexy, simple chorus that speaks to anyone who wants to get away. “High By the Beach” is similarly upbeat and taps into the desire to escape life’s pressures and troubles. It’s the album’s best shot at spawn­ing a radio hit, although too moody and sluggish to immediately grab a listener’s attention. Del Rey’s sassy attitude works fantastically over the soft synths and hip hop/pop beats. “High By the Beach” describes the joy of independence and subtly mourns a failing relationship.

The sad, yet romantic themes of “Honeymoon” are common in all forms of media. But “Honey­moon” feels new. Pop’s sound tends towards uni­formity, but the sound on this album is a risk for its deviance from the norm. Additionally, Del Rey extends the typical themes beyond sex and the ta­boo. Unlike the lyrics of many other pop singers and some of Del Rey’s previous songs, the lyrics of “Honeymoon” are abstract poetry, rather than indulgences in explicitness or obvious storytell­ing. Del Rey dramatizes the pain of heartbreak to a point of melancholy that most mainstream art­ists wouldn’t dare sing about.

Del Rey’sidentity mixes together various im­ages of tragic female beauty: femme fatale, Lo­lita and old Hollywood starlet. “Honeymoon” benefits from the fact that Del Rey consolidates her favorite imagery into one personality. “Hon­eymoon”’s character isn’t far off from any of Del Rey’s previous characters, however she is more mature. The protagonist sounds older and less captivated by the glitz and glamour of money, sex and love. Whether Del Rey is more successful because of her music or her image is difficult to say. She should be applauded for how seamlessly she weaves the two together. Fans fall in love with an image when the music is just as good. Unlike Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, Del Rey’s projected life­style is not one that fans would naturally want to take part in. Her image looks prettier from the outside. It’s beautiful and fascinating to watch her embody a lovelorn or a depressed Lolita. By choosing the character of a sad party girl, Del Rey hides most of her enthusiasm and vulnerabilities. This isn’t a hindrance because a well-constructed persona is just as easy to appreciate, if not more so, than a persona made to seem like the singer’s real personality.

Del Rey takes her listeners on a honeymoon that represents an escapist’s paradise, not a buoyant celebration of new love. “Honeymoon” doesn’t pack an instant punch, but it grows on you with each listen.

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