Lana Del Rey, Lust for Life | Album Review
Alternative pop/rock standout Lana del Rey returns with her fourth full-length album, Lust for Life, which ranks among her best work yet.
Lana Del Rey – quite the polarizing musician to say the least! Back in 2014, Del Rey made the StarPulse list, 10 Musicians You Either Adore or Loathe, written by yours truly. While she’s quite the character, what’s undeniable is the voice, which is by all means, one of a kind. Throughout her fourth full-length album Lust for Life, Lana Del Rey showcases her best attribute over the course of 16 tracks. Lust for Life ranks among her best work.
“Love,” the promo single from Lust for Life, commences the album. In some respects, “Love” is in a similar vein to much of her previous material. It’s dramatic, filled with a palette of big sounds. The drums are heavy, with something of an enigmatic backdrop. This is atmospheric, heavy on the vibe. Still, what’s changed is the optimism, and less melodrama that she’s often criticized for. While “Love” isn’t the most exciting song of the year or the album, it does suggest some shifts and tweaks in the script we’ve come to expect from Lana Del Rey.
“Lust for Life” pairs Del Rey once more with The Weeknd. She incorporates sultry speaking, as well as her signature vocals. She’s captures the Hollywood sentiment, exhibiting lust to be a successful star. She also focuses on her relationship. Ultimately, exemplified by the chorus, she uses the titular lyric, showcasing the optimism to live. While the Weeknd is restrained on this particular record, his contributions are highly effective. “Lust for Life” packs even more punch than the respectable opener, “Love.”
“13 Beaches” opens dramatically with lush strings, painting a dramatic picture. If one prejudges, we’re ready to point the finger at Del Rey for being melodramatic before singing a note. While she plays right into the hands of backdrop, what she delivers on “13 Beaches” feels incredibly authentic. She sings about living as a celebrity, the lack of privacy, yet, she also depicts the loneliness.
On “Cherry,” Del Rey loses her chill:
“I fall to pieces when I’m with you.”
Ultimately, the moody number finds her overcome with love for him. Even so, she paints love as dangerous. The chorus confirms that love, something most would consider positive, was ruined.
“My cherries and win, rosemary and thyme / And all of my peaches are ruined.”
“White Mustang” is connected to two forthcoming songs – “Summer Bummer” and “Groupie Love.” On the first verse, Lana Del Rey paints the picture that she’s a groupie in love with a musician, even if she has reservations. Such reservations are more pronounced on the second verse, where she admits, “I was such a fool for believing that you / Could change all the ways you’ve been living.” Lyrically, one of the best moments occurs when she sings:
“You’ve been revving and revving and revving it up / And the sound, it was frightening.”
There is no bummer whatsoever with “Summer Bummer,” which features dark production work with an enigmatic quality. This vibe is perfectly suited to all parties involved, particularly. Lana del Rey. At the top, she sings in an indulgently in an undertone, yet adds more drama – or melodrama – in the process. Ad-libs appear throughout the record from Playboi Carti, who plays a supporting role. The other featured guest, A$AP Rocky, gets his own verse, depicting shallow, undercover love. What do we learn from “Summer Bummer?” Nothing we’ve never heard before, but we do hear a fun, carefree song from Lana Del Rey.
A$AP Rocky reappears on the follow-up record, “Groupie Love.” “Groupie Love” opens abruptly, with the robust vocals of Lana Del Rey setting the tone. Expectedly, the sound is lush, atmospheric, indulgent. Vocally, she’s relaxed as always, never opting for a rhythmic driven delivery. As the title suggests, Del Rey characterizes the groupie who believes the famous musician whom she idolizes and cheers for is her man, hence, groupie love. Naturally on the standout, A$AP Rocky plays the role of her boo, the famous musician.
“In My Feelings”
“In My Feelings” is presumably about an ex who happens to be a rapper… Clearly, Del Rey is angry at herself, but at the same time, delivers a respectable diss.
“I’m crying while I’m cummin’ / Making love while I’m making good money / Sobbin’ in my cup of my coffee / Because I feel for another loser.”
On “Coachella – Woodstock in My Mind,” Del Rey seems to be emotional, inspired, and all over the place. Early on, she references Father John Misty and his wife. She then shifts to politics. Interestingly, politics and social issues continue on through a couple of songs from Lust for Life. “Coachella,” hence, encompasses her friendship with the Tillman family, “the children” (the future) whom she’s worried about, and a “Stairway to Heaven.” There’s something here, even if it’s not fully clear.
“God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women in It” is a fitting follow-up to “Coachella.” This is a women’s empowerment record, written in anticipation of politics effecting women. While this isn’t a personal favorite, the melody on the chorus is simple, yet beautiful, while the messaging is pitch perfect for the current climate.
“When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing”
Keeping in step with the politically-charged, social theme, “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing” finds Lana del Rey perturbed about the state of America. On the chorus, she asks a series of questions, before answering them as a good patriot should:
“Is it the end of an era? / Is it the end of America? / No, it’s only the beginning / If we hold onto hope, we’ll have a happy ending / When the word was at war before / We just kept dancing.”
“Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” continues to showcase the vocal prowess of Lana Del Rey. The concept is respectable, even if the song itself isn’t necessarily the crème de la crème of Lust for Life. A definite pro is enlisting the legendary Stevie Nicks as her duet partner. Even so, “Tomorrow Never Came” ends up being the more accomplished track, find her assisted by John Lennon’s son, Sean Ono Lennon. The vibe and vocal chemistry shine particularly bright here.
“Heroin” infuses a bit more drive and energy into the tail end of Lust for Life. While this isn’t a gem and the preceding “Tomorrow Never Came” trumps it, “Heroin” has some hipness – swagger if you will. “Change” is a thoughtful penultimate record conceptually, appearing in a fitting place on the track list. “Get Free” concludes with more punch, something needed after so many slower-paced numbers. The only rub is that at this point, Lust for Life is such a lengthy album, it doesn’t quite have the same effect that it might have had had the record been shortened.
All in all, Lust for Life ranks at or near the top of the Lana Del Rey discography. It’s more exciting than Honeymoon, and more well-rounded than her debut, Born to Die or follow-up mini album, Paradise. Does it beat out Ultraviolence? It’s a competitive fight, but Ultraviolence may still retains slightest edge. The biggest flaws are length and the abundance of ballads. In the grand scheme of things however, that’s nitpicking.
Gems: “Love,” “Lust for Life,” “Summer Bummer,” “Groupie Love,” “Coachella – Woodstock in My Mind,” & “Tomorrow Never Came”