After months of speculation, some leaks and a steady stream of singles trickling out from the top of the Hollywood Sign, Lana Del Reys Lust For Life dropped on Friday morning (Jul. 21).
The albums tone was set from very first single Love, a hopeful departure from Del Reys usually dark, melancholic fare. The sprawling sixteen song record, her longest to date, is as much a beacon of light as it is a politically-charged reminder of where America is now.
Outside of the shift in themes perhaps notably the outright feminist God Bless America And All the Beautiful Women In it, in which she uses the Statue of Liberty to represent the women left standing amidst the chaos Lana Del Reys fifth release is exciting because of the involvement of other musicians.
From two A$AP Rocky collaborations to appearances by Sean Ono Lennon and Stevie Nicks, LDR proves herself to be a gateway between classic rock and hip-hop; a unique artist capable of keeping one foot in past influences with the other firmly planted in the future.
Regardless of what you think of Lana Del Rey, this exactly the kind of hopeful, poignantly political pop record that we need right now. Lanas lost absolutely none of her edge, but maintains a beautiful outlook on the future. Even as she watches Trumps America unfold from the top of the Hollywood Sign, the girl who was born to die has found her lust for life, and we couldnt be happier for her.
Scroll further down for a track-by-track breakdown of Lust For Life.
The opening track, performed for the first time at this years SXSW at a surprise showcase, also ushered Lana into a new era of sound. Love, taking place against a sparse drum beat and floaty string production, is perhaps the happiest we have ever seen (or heard) the singer. From the somber reflections of heartbreak that put her on the map, shes evolved with this hopeful, minimalistic ode to everyone whos ever been young and in love.
Lust for Life (feat. The Weeknd)
The title track also boasts the albums first feature, with none other than frequent collaborator The Weeknd. The sumptuous, unapologetically poppy track sees both of these gloomy heartbreakers brooding to, and about, each other, but in the hopeful tone of lovers with a future. They sing They say only the good die young / That just aint right / Cause were having too much fun and the lustfor life and otherwiseis palpable. Starboy and Stargirl are reunited at the top of the Hollywood Sign, and the world couldnt be better.
Del Rey had to give us a touch of somber wandering; it wouldnt be a Lana Del Rey record otherwise. It hurts to love you / But I still love you / Its just the way I feel, she bemoans as she wanders thirteen beaches to find the one where she can be alone. Its a song that speaks to the lonely, star-filled poet that she remains at heart. Lanas learned to smile through the tears, but that doesnt mean shes not still quietly shedding a few.
A sensual, sensory experience, LDR conjures cherries, wine, rosemary and thyme amid a sexy downbeat. The slow-burning track is pure, diluted midsummer, and as delicious to listen to as the bodily pleasures that inspired that inspired the song. Would we expect anything less from the self-proclaimed Queen of Coney Island?
Not to be confused with White Ferrari (Im fully kidding; Frank Ocean fans, do not come for me), Del Rey takes a top-down ride in a lovers white mustang. Ever since we saw her hold her own against lumbering motorcycle gangs on ride and driving down a long highway in the video for Burning Desire, weve been waiting another road-trip ready bop. Melancholic motor junkies, rejoice.
Summer Bummer (feat. A$AP Rocky & Playboi Carti)
Turning up the star power by two for A$APs first appearance on the album, Lana plays with the trap beats she began to favor in Honeymoon, and what better pair to traipse this world alongside her than her hip-hop JFK and Cash Carti? She trades verses about lovers not being bummers while Carti and Rocky shower her with, um, compliments: Her sophistication makes you want to quit the bitch youre dating. Cant argue with that logic (or with the delectable beat).
Groupie Love (A$AP Rocky)
A more soulful turn than Summer Bummer, this Rocky duet contemplates the life of a groupie as she has to share her man with the rest of the world. Every time you look up / I know what youre thinking of / You want my groupie love, she swoons. You can perfectly imagine the scene from the National Anthem video where Rocky blows her a kiss and she holds it to her heart.
In My Feelings
What sounds like another doleful ballad turns out to be a bait-and-switch. In My Feelings sees Lana Del Rey at her most independent, as she tosses aside an old lover, devouring the word looooser with a relish befitting of everything shes achieved. She sings about laughing as she takes no prisoners, takes down names, makes good love and makes good money, too. Somebodys obviously been watching Lemonade.
Coachella Woodstock In My Mind
Although some of you might roll your eyes (or, for the purists, openly gasp) at the comparison of Woodstock to Coachella, Del Rey makes a point here about the power and atmosphere of music festivals, and the kind of communities we should all enjoy. When you think about the fact that this song was written amid the backdrop of impending nuclear threat, it becomes an uplifting beacon of hope, a snapshot of joy in the middle of trying times.
God Bless America And All the Beautiful Women In It
Lana Del Rey hasnt played with acoustic guitar sounds since covering Leonard Cohens Chelsea Hotel No. 2, and the opening eventually builds into the electronic orchestra that usually bolsters her work. This song is notable for using the imagery of the Statue of Liberty to empower American women. Listen closely, and theres criticism amidst the empowerment: two gun shots sound every time she sings God bless America.
When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing
Another anthem for the young, Lana Del Rey contemplates the end of America as she surveys the damage, and encourages everyone suffering to keep on dancing. She maintains, in the most political of reality checks, the message of hope that bolsters the entire record: Its only the beginning / if we hold on to hope / Well have a happy ending.
Beautiful People Beautiful Problems (feat. Stevie Nicks) The track that every single music blog has been salivating over since the announcement of these two witchy women teaming up does not disappoint. An ethereal anthem to troubled love by the two women in the world most familiar with the topic, Beautiful People features Stevie Nicks immediately distinguishable voice at its best, playing with Del Reys soft whispers and raising them to new emotional heights.
Tomorrow Never Came (feat. Sean Ono Lennon)
With a refrain that makes a gentle nod to Bob Dylans Lay Lady Lay and Elton Johns Tiny Dancer, Lana Del Rey and Sean Ono Lennon are steeped in classic rock as interpreted by the new generation of musicians. These two show off their musical chops and their deep emotional ties to an era of American music so many think is dead. I adored you / And I just wanted things to be the same, they sing to each other amid soft guitar and Beatles-esque production that would bring the most stone-hearted doubters to tears.
A tender song about death in an album full of life, Del Rey pays tribute to the drug thats taken so many of her icons. Its impossible to not think of Lou Reed and The Velvet Undergrounds song of the same name as the track builds to an intensity, to Del Rey writing on the walls in blood and st.
Lana Del Rey hasnt sang over a piano barebones like this since Old Money, a heartbreaking track from Ultraviolence that samples the love theme from Franco Zafirellis Romeo and Juliet. This song, doubling as both personal empowerment and a blanket statement about keeping hope alive during times of great turmoil, is by far her most powerful and heartbreaking as she attempts to be honest, capable, and beautiful in the face of instability.
The final track, building into a Beach Boys-like melody, is a song of intense relief after so much contemplation and turmoil. Equal parts calm and danceable, this is the perfect ending to an album so full of deep philosophical thought. She revisits the theme of having a war on her mind, subverting it by finally living her own life away from somebody elses game. Its this independence that gives Del Rey her lust for life, and makes this the perfect closer to an album full of contemplations of intense growth.
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