Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life Review

Six years ago, twelve-year-old me sat on her bed listening to Now That’s What I Call Music 80 on her pink CD player, and heard Video Games by Lana del Rey for the first time. At first she didn’t understand why anyone would choose to listen to this over the recycled pop of Maroon 5 or The Saturdays etc, but even at that young and innocent age, it was difficult not to be enticed by its haunting beauty. Still now I’m enamoured by the way del Rey managed to fashion a hugely hard-hitting track alongside such a strong sense of vulnerability, with eerie vocals presented against a mere piano and glistening of strings. Six years later, Lana del Rey is four albums down, with her latest release – Lust for Life – being considered her most up-beat, pop-inspired album. But if this is what we’re labelling as pop these days, it certainly doesn’t match the stuff I was listening to at twelve.

What I admire so much about del Rey’s music is that she doesn’t just write songs, she writes stories. Each track is an invitation into a universe of happy-go-lucky consumerism, the glamour of Hollywood, dystopian America, a careless relationship, and so on and so on. The first glimpse of Lust for Life we received came in the form of single Love, which has a glimmer of 1950s to it, via echoing bass, climatic percussion and delicious harmonies. And despite its slowness, it has a youthful effervescence that only Lana could capture. It transports us to somewhere happy, somewhere care-free. Superficially del Rey’s decelerated numbers sound depleted, depressing, but there’s usually something innocently hopeful that underpins each track. This is true of titular track Lust for Life too, alongside The Weeknd. There’s a sense of grandeur in the lyricism – ‘climbing the H of the Hollywood sign’ is the kind of brilliantly young and reckless imagery del Rey often paints, mingling ideas of movie-like relationships and pop culture to curate mature, dreamy additions to her tracklist.

Though her songs often depict the typical topics of love and relationships, del Rey has a political side too. When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing deliberates President Trump’s first months in office and probes at his choices, yet remains somewhat optimistic in the way it urges us to keep dancing. Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind illustrates the euphoria of the eponymous festival, with an underlying guilt being felt as she enjoyed herself at a time of world tension. Instrumentally, there isn’t much diversity about the LP, but del Rey’s talent lies in the way she can put across different messages and different worlds through her evocative, lingering songs.

The circulating ‘pop vibe’ idea that has spread about this album could be down to the artists that feature. As well as The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky makes an appearance on both Summer Bummer (with Playboi Carti) and Groupie Love. Neither are the album’s greatest achievements, but the former is undeniably catchy in its bubbling bassline and shuffling percussion, though the best part of the track is the echoic vocals towards the end that recall Lana’s original style. Diverting from the pop resurgences, Sean Ono Lennon gives his vocals to Tomorrow Never Came, a Beatles tribute. It is slightly similar to the legendary band’s style, with shaky guitar and Ono Lennon’s voice deriving some likeness to his father’s. It’s one of the barest tracks on the album, one that exposes the powerful vulnerability that I fell in love with on Video Games. Lastly comes a collaboration with Stevie Nicks on Beautiful People Beautiful Problems. Their voices marry gorgeously, and the symbolism of two female, musical powerhouses of different eras joining forces gives extra magnificence to this already-wonderful track.

It may not compare wholly to the basic beauty of Born to Die, but the sheer distinctness and poignancy of everything Lana del Rey does will never not be impressive. She is the kind of female icon that needs a wider following – one that is known for her amazing and irrefutable talent over anything else. Props to her.

Lana del Rey – Lust for Life: 8/10

Eleanor Chivers


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