Wednesday 26 July 2017

Lana Del Rey - Lust For Life

Lana Del Rey - Lust For Life

'Lust For Life' really isn't far removed from Lana's previous albums: cinematic, nostalgia-soaked Americana with a hip-hop twist. But before you can criticise her for a lack of ideas, it's clear that her sound is more pertinent than ever. Ahead of her time with the 2012 'Born To Die', this femme fatale has come into her own as the tragic voice of a nation - a nation in mourning, lusting after the romance of a glamorous past.

Her music has always been inherently American, but she's developed an acute social conscience here. "God bless America," she sings juxtaposed with the sound of gunshots, "and all the beautiful women in it". It doesn't take much to read her vehement hatred of Trump in these songs. On When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing she demands we "cut a rug, lean into the fucking youth" before questioning "is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America?". And Coachella - Woodstock In My Mind might be the most Lana Del Rey song of all time: the mix of pop references and trap beats with hipster cool and wistfulness, questioning wearily "what's it all for? Will it be okay?".

This triptych of songs form the core of 'Lust For Life', yet she does push her own boundaries elsewhere. Summer Bummer and Groupie Love see her delving further into hip-hop, both featuring A$AP Rocky. In truth the rapping is unnecessary, the songs meandering without really landing and her breathy voice coming off as whiny. In the opposite direction is the Max Martin penned and produced title track with The Weeknd - a clear bid to storm the charts but far from the best work from either artist.

'Lust For Life' is at its most enjoyable when Lana conforms to our expectations: morose yet deliciously sexual and slightly dead behind the eyes. It's moody pop that's beautiful and transporting and this fifth album has plenty of it: the aching longing in the melodies of Love; the slightly bonkers 13 Beaches; the sensual seductive tones of Cherry ("bitch!"); the brooding menace of In My Feelings; the woozy doom-laden Heroin in which she explores the drug-like pull of fame. And on Beautiful People Beautiful Problems she realises her nostalgic fantasy by singing with Stevie Nicks, truly pairing past and present (that's counting the nod to Video Games in the lyrics).

Few of these songs are really pop singles, but Lana Del Rey continues to buck current trends by offering a complete album that together represents a single vision. It might lack the freshness of her debut but now she sounds more self-assured than ever, revelling in melodrama and darkness at a time when for many light seems so distant.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Cherry
* In My Feelings
* Heroin

Listen: 'Lust For Life' is out now.