Lana, ‘Marmite’, Del Rey is often an artist at the epicenter of frivolous bickering that separates “she whines a lot” naysayers from restless, “she hugged me as I bawled on her shoulder” die-hards. This began in 2011 with her first blow-up single, ‘Video Games’ (perhaps you’ve heard of it) and she has since released the grandiose Born to Die and its expansion Born to Die: The Paradise Edition, followed by the more lowly, blues-tinged album Ultraviolence.
While Lana sticks to the typical ‘troubled pretty girl obsesses over headstrong bad boy’ motif of her past work, tales of bitter-sweet, intoxicating love affair are impassioned and heated enough to lend mileage to her third full length, Honeymoon. Just.
The album kicks off with a bold string section that firmly belongs in a James Bond film and a similarly sultry production fleshes out each song, from the woodwind intro on ‘Music To Watch Boys To’ to the stuttering saxophone of ‘Art Deco’, which provides a seamlessly elegant backdrop to the 50s baroque singing. With these sumptuous, tortured vocals, it’s hard not to be wooed into a love-drunk splendour at times, such as on the woozy ‘Terrence Loves You’ or the dark, lustful ‘The Blackest Day’. Once you really dial in on those tones you are whisked away to smoky Hollywood hotels and drug-laden backrooms.
However, this effect soon wears off and you are left with a 60+ minute jumble of instrumentation that doesn’t give anything new passed the 90 second mark of 4-5 minute songs. While the songwriting has taken a step up from Ultraviolence, it’s still littered with trashy writing and counter-culture that throw the whole persona off kilter (“Slow dance to rock music/Kiss while we do it” “You’re so Art Deco/You’re so ghetto”). Del Rey walks a fine line between decadent sensuality and a painfully drab, dejected blur. For the most part, this album falls on the latter.
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