Sara Snoddy // Contributing writer
Since the birth of her noirish single “Video Games,” Lana Del Rey’s pouty persona has besought and beguiled listeners, who are more than willing to buy the fake Hollywood glamour she sells.
“We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me,” a flower-crowned Rey moans on the title track of her newest album, Honeymoon.
But after listening to the seductive 14-track record, I’d have to disagree.
It’s been three years since the songstress dropped her debut album, the hip hop/R&B influenced Born to Die, that had people wondering who the bouffant beauty queen was trying to be. Del Rey, whose real name is Elizabeth Grant, had tried but failed to launch a career as ‘Lizzy Grant,’ a blonde-headed girl with a wispy voice, nothing like the sinuous brunette, Del Rey. While Grant chose to reinvent herself into something bankable, she still lives on in her muse’s LPs and her EP, Born to Die: The Paradise Edition.
Her 2012 noirish album, Ultraviolence, had none of Born to Die’s pomp and was a return to “Video Games” form. But if Ultraviolence was a toxic wasteland filled with violent men, wailing guitar cords and bleak dirges, Honeymoon‘s brand of cinema is a verdant paradise, reminiscent of Born to Die‘s soaring baroque pop sound.
Honeymoon is an honest coupling of everything we know and love about our “Queen of Coney Island.” The newly minted record is influenced heavily by French and Italian cinema, and this is most realized in the title track. “Honeymoon’s” orchestral waves roll in, dragging the listener deeper into the heart and soul of Del Rey’s muse.
She laments her life in dark tracks like with “God Knows I Tried,” which features lyrics like “I’ve got nothing much to live for, ever since I found my fame.”
In the synthetic trap-pop-ballad, “High by the Beach,” she takes a more violent approach to her fame, gunning down the paparazzo who just can’t leave her alone. The lead single, released on Aug. 10, is Rey’s newest rebel anthem, evident in her masterful bridge: “Lights, camera, acción, I’ll do it on my own. Don’t need your money, money, to get me what I want.”
Many Honeymoon tracks are largely escapist, like the melodramatic “The Blackest Day,” operatic “Terrence Loves You” and the lovely “Swan Song.” The latter of these warns of letting life pass you by. In the luscious “Salvatore,” Rey transports us to summertime in the southern Italian coast, where she lounges eating “soft ice cream” and spending time with her lover.
“Art Deco” and “Religion” are all about worshipping some mysterious figure, either a lover or maybe even Rey’s friend Azealia Banks as some have speculated. This is somehow more vintage Lana Del Rey than the Bond-esque “24” and the sexy “Freak.”
A lot was riding on Honeymoon. Would Rey stick to her noir roots or would she revert back to the sexual and dual-voiced sound of her first LP? The result is a little ambiguous, but the marriage of her once conflicting artistic voices is perfection. In her last track, a Nina Simone cover, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” she asks her fans and critics, “Baby, you understand me now?”
I think we finally do.
To contact Lifestyles editor Rhiannon Gilbert email firstname.lastname@example.org