The fault and form of Lana Del Rey’s music have always been found within the periphery of twisted feminism. Sure, women possess many wonderful traits; strong, independent, sassy – provocative, even.
But if it were up to the former Lizzy Grant, there’s no harm in the fairer sex wanting nothing more in life than to serve her man. In the real world, that notion is disconcerting. In Del Rey’s universe, though, it’s strangely invigorating.
“I like you a lot,” she rolls that confession around her mouth like cognag in the wistfully dreamy Music To Watch Boys To. “So I do what you want.”
Del Rey makes no concessions about being a hopeless romantic. But romanticism, to the New York native, is tainted by perdition, addiction and – well, mostly – wicked men. The first bad boy makes his appearance two minutes into the opening title track.
Thematically, the numbers on Honeymoon – from the hypnotic Terrence Loves You to the haunting The Blackest Day – doesn’t stray far from the underlying bleakness of 2012’s Born To Die and last year’s Ultraviolence. At times, you’ll find the songs to be persistently repetitious in their words.
But on her third major-label release, Del Rey finally sounds more like an artist and less like a character. So much so that when she gets down on her knees for a lover (Religion), you know the 30-year-old songstress is revelling in her artistry.
That said, your enjoyment of Honeymoon depends on your tolerance for a sound that’s decadently somnambulant. Instant smashes are a luxury here. At most, you’ll hear traces of hummable melodies on cuts such as the frosty Art Deco and dramatic Salvatore.
If the record seems too engulfed in languor, it’s only because Del Rey is playing to her strengths. And that includes muting instrumentation bombast and amplifying old world cinematic aesthetics.
It’s a template that finally culminates in the noirish 24, a number with James Bond-ian pop vibes that swoops and soars over ominous percussions. When she ecstatically coos towards the end in a Marilyn Monroe-esque fashion, it does sound like Del Rey has found her musical retreat.
Lana Del Rey