Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life // Album Review

Breaking her usual pattern of putting a record out per year, Lana Del Rey releases her new album ‘Lust For Life’ upon great expectations. Ever since she dropped the lead single ‘Love’, many have speculated about the date of release for ‘Lust For Life’ – and finally it is here!

The first thing that the listener realises is how different the cover is from her previous work. Not only she has decided to leave behind her paradigmatic typography, but she is finally smiling. Wearing a 60s outfit, Del Rey is about to show us quite a different side of her throughout the album. And I will not even get into the car theories…

From the epic duet that ‘Lust For Life’ is, all the way to ‘Summer Bummer’, Lana showcased contrasting facets of the album through the promotional singles. ‘Love’ was a clear departure from her preceding work. Instead of the typical dramatic, mournful approach to her singing and lyrics, we find an assured Lana singing for the younger generation – an empowering anthem in times of adversity. Here, her new sound is very noticeable; it is way more polished, warm, with less reverb and overall clearer. Similarly, the title track happens to be a realistic ending to what could have been yet another trademark Lana song – could be seen as an answer to ‘Born To Die’. Instead of playing a victim role as she has always done, Lana realises that “we’re the captains of our own souls”.

After playing a few times the record, ‘Groupie Love’ is definitely the weakest song and most repetitive out of the grander first half of the album. Even though it is quite pleasing overall, it doesn’t add anything new to the table and new artistic direction unlike all the previous tracks, and even worse – it could be placed in any of her other albums and perfectly fit in. Some could argue that ‘White Mustang’ also fits this same description as it shares a common storyline with ‘Groupie Love’, nonetheless, there’s a certain fresh feeling to it that not only it is better than the former, but a highlight on the album.

The widely hated, hip hop mess that ‘Summer Bummer’ is happens to be a massive grower. It takes roughly three listens to be able to not hate it, but it gets better from there on – it is a soft piano-led earworm supported by wisely panned “what?”s which add an organic feeling to the clean trap beat. The real bummer though, is ‘In My Feelings’, a song awaiting for a lawsuit as it sounds incredibly familiar to some other track I cannot recall. Lana’s voice turns into an annoying mess for the whole track, due to  too much reverb and too many pointless ambient sounds going on at the same time.

Out of the first half, the real hidden gem is ’13 Beaches’, a song that’s an anecdote of a day Lana wanted to read a book at the beach, but since paparazzis would follow her everywhere, it took her thirteen beaches to find one without any of them. At first, that seems quite a silly thing to turn into a song, as ’13 Beaches’ is such a melodramatic track, however she turned that event into a reflection on fame and how she loves it as it allows her to do whatever she wants to, but how at the same, fame takes quotidian things away from her like privacy. Even though that theme has been endlessly explored by everyone in the music industry, it is nice to see Lana sticking her head out of red party dresses and bad guys for a while. This song in particular sounds reminiscent of her ‘Born To Die’ days.

At the start of the second half of ‘Lust For Life’, we find a sequence of four ‘socially aware’ songs which aim to be some kind of pacifist/hippy section. ‘Coachella’ being one of the stand-outs, not because of its lyrics, but rather the heavenly pre-chorus – including FX effects straight out of ‘Born To Die’! She successfully applies the same formula as in her debut, combining trendy hip hop beats with cinematic music, and sounds as fresh as ever. Likewise, ‘God Bless America’ is the ‘National Anthem’ of the record, an instant classic that she will probably enjoy performing in the future as everyone will sing along.

In the ‘conscious’ section, the weakest song is definitely ‘When the World Was At War We Kept Dancing’, where she gets lost in reverb and unnecessary pads – almost sounding like if she was still a “club queen on the downtown scene”. This small misstep in the album’s successful production change with respect to her previous records is quickly forgotten when the amazing acoustic songs kick in. ’Beautiful People Beautiful Problems’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Came’ are both stunning additions to her discography – could this be a route she will further explore in her next album? I certainly would not mind it. Those two collaborations fit incredibly well and become essential after listening to them – unlike others she has performed in this record, (yes I’m looking at you ‘Groupie Love’!)

Entering the slowest part of the tracklist (the last three songs are the longest) we find Lana’s favourite song she has written for ‘Lust For Life’; ‘Heroin’. Now, I am yet to find a fan of Lana who likes this song, however it is a massive grower. It is by far the most dreamy song she has ever recorded, it sounds just like something that would fit a space scene.

The lyrics are also a great highlight – switching from romanticising drugs as she has always done, Lana decides to sing against heroin in a very subtle way, almost equalling it to fame. She is known as a singer who sounds pretty boring through her songs, not many noticeable changes are made in her music and usually ends up in the same spot as she starts – this however doesn’t happen in ‘Heroin’. Lana manages to orchestrate a heavenly crescendo, leaving Earth in the very last chorus and landing in the moon in the last line – making the listener feel a bunch of emotions in the journey.

‘Change’ flows in effortlessly and picks up exactly where the mood of ‘Heroin’ left – despite being written and recorded extremely close to the album’s deadline date. It is also a song that is wildly underrated like ‘Heroin’, dismissed as a last moment half baked creative fart in the piano when it actually its lyrics enclose a beautiful message of peace. It is worth noting how amazing she sounds with just a quiet, warm piano track as a supporting instrumental – sometimes, less is more.

Just like ‘Born To Die’ started and ended with incredible songs, this time around Lana has ‘Get Free’, a 60s girl group inspired song where she decides to put an end to her sad self, to leave behind the days of being surrounded by toxic people and go “out of the black, into the blue” – including a seaside scene playing in the background during the last seconds of the record, hinting at a new beginning for her.

Conceptually and sonically, Del Rey has divided the album into clearly different parts. First, there’s the huge anthems that are more self-centered on her experiences, somehow telling a story. Here we find the most typically “Lana” songs such as the ‘Lust For Life’ version of ‘Cola’, ‘Cherry’, where she awkwardly says fuck and bitch randomly through the songs. In the second part though, there’s the more raw, acoustic side of her, unexplored until now in her (officially) released music and more directed to the world. Overall, both parts complement each other and work extremely well as an album. She has completely outdone herself, putting all of her previous efforts to shame in terms of quality consistency throughout the whole record. Despite some lows here and there, we are definitely in front of a masterpiece and what will go down as one of Lana’s greatest records – might easily be the best american record out there right now. *wink* *wink* [Editor’s note: The record has debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts too! Congratulations!]

9.3 Stars (9.3 / 10)