“Finally I’m crossing the threshold/From the ordinary world/To the reveal of my heart.” The opening lines of “Get Free” from Lana Del Rey’s newest album, Lust for Life, succinctly capture her shift from a perceived pop star to a perceptive artist.
With four albums in five years, Del Rey has distinguished herself with the sweet melancholy of her music. To many, she is an enigma that has created her own sound of '60s and '70s rock mashed with modern infusions of trap and hip-hop. Her previous albums leave a delicate taste of soft anguish and despondency. However, Lust for Life attempts to change the narrative to one of hope and cautious optimism.
Although Del Rey does not completely move on from songs about bad romances, her repertoire matures into one with observations about the nation, materialistic glamour, and the price of fame. “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing” is an airy and eerie exploration of the “end of an era” and the decaying of the American Dream.
Unlike her past albums (Ultraviolence, Born to Die), Del Rey takes a more wary approach to drugs and alludes to American pop culture icons who struggled with substance abuse. The darkly introspective yet ethereal “Heroin” deals with the damaging effects not only of drugs but of fame. Once again, Del Rey manages to create a beautiful sound to describe the ugly cracks in society.
However, the album isn't all gloom and doom. She sings as if a reminder to both the audience and herself to relish in the spontaneity of the present and hope for the future. The first track on the album, “Love” is a dreamy orchestration of what it’s like to be young, in love, and carefree (sound familiar?). The instrumental evokes a nostalgic and romanticized Americana past.
Del Rey’s voice ripples through the lush harmonies of trap drums and silky bass. With its grand cinematic string opening, “13 Beaches” could be the background music of a dramatic feature film. Each song is richly constructed with a variety of instruments to create that signature “Lana” vibe. But no Lana album is complete without a few guest stars.
These guest vocals start off with The Weeknd’s captivating falsetto in “Lust for Life” and end with Sean Ono Lennon’s (son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono) tender feature in “Tomorrow Never Came.” A$AP Rocky, a frequent collaborator with Del Rey, makes an appearance both in “Groupie Love” and “Summer Bummer” alongside Playboi Carti.
However, the most astonishing accompaniment is with the one and only Stevie Nicks in “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems.” Nicks’ velvety voice complements Del Rey’s gossamer vocals to create an almost unearthly composition. The song acknowledges that each individual faces issues, yet the languid melody induces the feeling of peacefully floating among the stars in space.
Overall, Lust for Life is a sensuous and symbolically packed album. A strong follow up to past albums, Lust attempts to navigate happiness in a struggling world. Although Del Rey does not stray far from her usual sound, she delivers an album that shows maturity and growth as an artist and songwriter.