Lana Del Rey – the sad queen of Coney Island and Hollywood nostalgia, dropped her fifth studio album on the 21st of July, 2017. The album was titled “Lust For Life”, and there was much speculation after Del Rey released a promotional trailer for it on the 31st of March. The album has 16 songs from “Love” to “Get Free”.
The album kicks off with “Love” – and it somehow comes as a pleasant surprise. If you are familiar with Del Rey’s work, you would know that almost all of her songs in the past have been about toxic relationships, drugs, sex and downright recklessness. In this song however, we hear Del Rey crooning about today’s youth and how they still hold on to a sense of wonder in this era of darkness. It is important to notice that Del Rey isn’t just singing about love but also self-love and how feelings of love and affection drive young people forward, even in the face of adversity. Del Rey claims this song is dedicated exclusively to her fans.
The next track is, Lust For Life” which features The Weeknd, is an interesting single which promotes the will to live. It has an interesting inspiration, however – Del Rey sings about the H of the Hollywood sign, which is a reference to the suicide of Peg Entwistle - a young actress who leapt to her death from that very spot, in 1932. It is a reference too ‘dying young’ and the theme has further been derived from Billy Joel’s “Only The Good Die Young”. The song is very optimistic in it’s nature nonetheless as it speaks of living life to the fullest and is probably Del Rey’s brightest track to date.
“13 Beaches” is the third track and it bears Del Rey’s trademark reflections and nostalgic vibes. Apparently, Del Rey had to search thirteen beaches to escape paparazzi! This has inspired the song and that scene has flawlessly been connected to Del Rey’s efforts to avoid a toxic relationship and her search for “something real” as far as relationships are concerned.
The next track is my favourite and it is titled “Cherry”. It is a song about loss and dead dreams. Old fans of Del Rey will find it reminiscent of Del Rey’s cover of “Summer Wine” (which was originally sung by the great Nancy Sinatra). This song has gorgeous imagery (with pretty explicit lyrics), yet the very vibe of accepting everything with open arms, makes the lyrics all the more appealing.
“White Mustang”, is the fifth track whose accompanying music video is very interesting and diverges from Del Rey’s usual vintage themes and showcases a futuristic scene. The song is about loving a fellow artist, but also about accepting yourself first and not defining yourself solely on the basis of a relationship. It is the shortest track on the album and is fair on the ears.
The sixth track “Summer Bummer” featuring A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti, has faced a lot of flak from many fans on whether the rap portion of the song was necessary or not, as the song sounds pretty good without it as well. Considering how Del Rey’s previous work has heavily been influenced by hip-hop (especially Born To Die), it wasn’t a big surprise.
“Groupie Love” (probably my least favourite track, featuring A$AP Rocky) is a slow, smooth, scintillating track that is easy on the ears. It isn’t Del Rey’s best track.
“In My Feelings” is probably the best track on the album, simply for the fact that it is incredibly strong. Del Rey wields every ounce of her feminine strength in this song and its nothing like you’ve ever heard before. The lyrics show how Del Rey is incredibly self-aware and the amount of pride and self-respect in the song is endearing.
The ninth track “Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind” is a very rich, soulful track, with a political background. Del Rey attends the Coachella music festival and while she is there, her mind wanders to the famous 1969 rock music festival, Woodstock. She is reminded of Woodstock as Coachella bears a similar energy and freedom. Yet, Del Rey is troubled too, for “tensions are rising over country lines”. She tries to give hope to everyone in the midst of chaotic scenarios, especially with the rising tensions with North Korea. She also muses about her contribution as an artist and although it could be as small as hoping, it still counts.
“God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Woman In It” is a song that was inspired by the current state of women’s rights. Although Del Rey doesn’t consider herself a feminist, the lyrics are encouraging and strong. Del Rey very subtly, prays for the liberation of women in America and wishes that all women stand proud and strong like Lady Liberty. It is a very impressive track and a must-listen on the album. The gunshot sounds placed in the background work quite well with the music.
The eleventh track “When The World Was At War Before We Just Kept Dancing” is another song that forces it’s listeners to think about the present scenario. At first, the title somehow gives the vibe of indifference, but the song makes it clear that it is anything but that. Del Rey wonders if it is the end of America or if it is the end of an era, due to the political scene in the United States. She cleverly uses imagery to denote themes like the British colonization(back in the 18th century), and the song demands that the truth be spoken out loud. Del Rey sings about having hope, which might lead to a happy ending and “dancing” has a very deep meaning to it. Back in the day, the Hippie movement arose promoting peace and love, which was in contrast with all the chaos happening across the globe like the Vietnam War and the Cold War. Del Rey clearly means that older generations have faced such adversaries too and if they have been able to emerge successful, so can the present one.
“Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” is an amazing track which features the wonderful Stevie Nicks. It is a very thoughtful song which focuses on the realities of life and how it is quite easy to complain and very difficult to appreciate the little things in life. Del Rey and Stevie Nicks make a fabulous pair as both of them have iconic, mystic voices and paired with their writing, it makes for a very beautiful single.
The thirteenth track is “Tomorrow Never Came” which features Sean Lennon. It is a sweet track that muses on the idea of being left by a loved one and references Bob Dylan’s 1969 song “Lay Lady Lay”. The theme of the song is very faintly similar to Del Rey’s famous song “Blue Jeans”.
The fourteenth track is my favourite track after “Cherry” and it is titled “Heroin”. It is a very nostalgic song that references a lot of stuff from Topanga to Charles Manson. This track is probably the most ‘Lana-esque’ on the album as it has recurring themes of Hollywood, California and the glamour of it all. Del Rey always seems to find beauty in the darkest aspects and here she finds it on the shores of Topanga while crooning about the decay brought about by an actual drug, as well as fame.
“Change” is a very simple and light track, yet powerful in it’s message. Del Rey speaks of changing times and her hope of accepting the change with open arms and her prayer to be more honest, faithful and capable in her relationships. She somehow knows that change is inevitable and nobody really knows when it shall strike but whenever it does, we need to accept it openly. The song shows just how much Del Rey has matured over the years as a seasoned artist.
The last track which is “Get Free” treads the lines of choosing what she wants to feel and Del Rey decides that she wants to feel happy and thankful for all that she has. Del Rey apparently pays homage to Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston in this song as she is “.....doin it for all of us, who never got the chance”, which probably references the two great singers who passed away too soon. The song, above all, is a journey away from the darker aspects of Del Rey’s life and into the lighter, more optimistic spectrum.
This is Del Rey’s only album where she has featured other artists on different tracks and the change is somehow, oddly refreshing. Above all, Lust For Life lives up to it’s title as it is brimming with appreciation and knowledge. Del Rey taking control of her own life and setting limits and defining various aspects of her life, somehow adds a very bright tone to the considerably dark nature of her art. The album’s aesthetic is just like Del Rey promised it would be – optimistic and full of summer. Go listen.