Lana Del Ray delivers strongest, saddest album to date

The crooning voice, the woeful ballads, the lyrics full of lust and loss — they’re all back, and it could only stem from the queen of alternative music herself, Lana Del Rey. Lana’s highly-anticipated album “Norman F*cking Rockwell!” was released on Aug. 30, and some of her fans are calling it her best yet. 

Within the first 30 seconds of the title track, the sensually rich lyrics she’s known for present themselves. As the first song fills your ears, it’s hard not to get the feeling that it’s almost too good to be true.

The album contains a number of songs that Lana released before the album dropped. “Mariners Apartment Complex,” “Venice B*tch,” “Doin’ Time,” “Happiness is a butterfly” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have — but I have it,” are songs that true Lana fans know have been out for some time. In fact, some of these songs are paired with visually gorgeous and vintage-style music videos.

A Lana album isn’t complete without sad songs that are perfect for the transition from Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer” to what Twitter is calling “sad girl fall.” No song is just as melancholy as “How to disappear,” with lyrics so powerfully sad, making the listener feel as if they missed out on a lifetime of experiences.

There is also something else entirely at play throughout the tracks, a calling out of the unmistakable toxic masculinity that exists in most of her work. This is seen in the title track, as she refers to someone as a “man-child,” bringing attention to male “artists” who are also potentially abusive as they “color her blue.”  

The album ends with the song, “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have — but I have it,” and it couldn’t be a more fitting way to end the emotional rollercoaster that is “Norman F*cking Rockwell!” It’s hard not to feel dangerously deranged when Lana so vividly describes it in this song. 

She croons, “I’ve been tearing around … / 24/7 Sylvia Plath / Writing in blood on the walls.” You can feel the parallels between “crazy” poets and lyricists like Plath and Lana, who are women that feel so deeply that the intensity reverberates off of the pages or into our ears with such ease.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Lana is the way she uses elements of nostalgia both musically and literally, fusing different melodies with lyrics that make you long for a time you don’t even know exists. 

Could Lana be yearning for the 1930s, the 60s or the 90s? Norman Rockwell was an illustrator most prominent during the 30s and 40s, Plath a famous poet that tragically died in the late 60s and the sublime song, “Doin’ Time” that she covers on the album came out in the late 90s. 

Perhaps these wide-ranging highlights of American pop culture show that the time period most important to remember and feel is every possible time, a reminder that we live in constant pursuit of what’s passed.

This album proves that Lana is better than ever, scoring high praise from popular music sites like Metacritic and Pitchfork after the album’s release. It comes at a time where many compare her to Lorde and Billie Eilish, and if nothing else, this album screams that Lana is in a league of her own, an artist receiving little to no radio time but topping charts nonetheless.

Crafting illustrious sonic paintings from our past, Lana’s seductive voice would fit nicely streaming from speakers in a car carrying new lovers, or blaring from the headphones of a young person attempting to navigate a busy city.

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