Eloping with Lana Del Rey has never been so easy.
An effort that would have thrown Albert Einstein for a loop as it challenges the known parameters of the space-time continuum, Honeymoon ruptures reality and enters into a new dimension where time both halts and quickens. It’s an absurd contradiction, but such is the complexity and power of Rey’s third studio album.
Lana Del Rey is back to her best. The combination of her trademark temptress voice with traces of jazz, electronic, and pop arrives at the culmination of her musical identity. Finally freed from the constraint of overly ambitious producers, she, alongside songwriter Rick Nowels and producer Kieron Menzies, put forth a product worthy of her extravagant persona, one that reminds of both Nancy Sinatra and Amy Winehouse.
Her first words on “Honeymoon,” the album’s first track, immediately enthralls you and sets the boundaries for this new dimension: “We both know that is it not fashionable to love me … but there is truly nobody for you but me.” The rising soprano emerges from an ambiance-setting piano ensemble that then grows in stature as a whole orchestra joins in and creates a pseudo-ballad that instantly transports you to a floating cloud of inner reflection.
This honeymoon feels as hot and sticky as she intends it to, and it leaves you begging for more. Luckily enough, she gives more—much more.
Loving, or even liking, her work generates powerful emotions in the minds of those involved in her rise to prominence. Her sheer existence in the industry is met with both adulation and scrutiny—her every move is charted and her every word is recorded. Often she seemed to stare at the world with a blank expression, seemingly residing above the crowd and embracing her perception.
Her entrancing voice, although lacking in range, captivates her audience by instead focusing on which she’s been blessed with: capturing emotion and conveying it through a pack-a-punch bundle of intricacy that simply cannot be ignored. As hard as you attempt to stop listening to her, it is too late. As soon as you enter her bittersweet web of lust, violence, regret, and hope, you are imprisoned, but somehow, when it ends, you do not want to leave.
The source of much of her music has been the irreverent exploration of the perceived experience of beautiful women, and in “God Knows I Tried,” she delivers an indictment of her failed toxic relationships and the role her own actions played in them. The soothing guitar chords reminds of Nancy Sinatra’s rendition of “Bang Bang” at the start of Kill Bill vol. 1. It seems too fitting, as you almost expect the chorus of “my baby shot me down” to follow Del Rey’s heartfelt plea for validation.
Her emotional exploration then follows her chosen method, or so it appears, of dealing with the aftermath of the continuous mental and physical strain she puts herself through. “We won’t survive/ We’re sinking into the sand, ” she says. Coupled with moving (literally) EDM mix, “High By The Beach” would not find itself foreign neither in a club’s setlist on any given night nor in high-schooler’s late night playlist designed for reminiscing.
The wide-range of emotions conveyed throughout the work reach a breaking point in “Swan Song,” where Del Rey promises to “never see him again,” pledging that it will “be [their] swan song,” and she clearly cannot continue in her current path. This serves as a parallel to her previous works, as her past producers and contributors swayed the musical direction of her efforts to a point where they lost all of the meaning—ironically, “meaning” is what often characterizes Del Rey’s work.
Honeymoon comes full circle, bringing to fruition her past struggles both professionally and personally. Meeting the laser-like scrutiny and ever-present doubt she faced with the “blank stare,” Del Rey manages that which appeared massively improbable: she transcended herself and most importantly, her perception of herself. She elevated her stature to a point where musical praise is not mutually exclusive to the intended effect her work has on the audience. No longer will she have cause for sadness, as she has returned from her “developing” phase on a vendetta.
Featured Image by Interscope Records