It’s the end of the world, as Lana Del Rey knows it. Though the lead single of the singer’s fourth major-label release would’ve had you thinking otherwise.
When Love was released earlier in the year, the luxurious torch song saw the former Lizzy Grant channelling uncharacteristic optimism. It’s an atypical message from Del Rey (“It’s enough to be young and in love”), who over the course of her past three albums, has been singing about love as a subject of two extremes – a hopeless addiction and a perverse masochism tool.
But Love kind of swerves that discourse. “It’s going to be a happier album”, fans thought while waiting for the record’s release.
Well, that depends on how you define “happy”. To an extent, Del Rey has never sounded as buoyant as she does on Lust For Life – even when she’s singing about the end of the world.
“Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America?” the 32-year-old singer asks in When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing, over ghostly melodies, before vowing to stay strong in the face of adversity.
Whether or not the track is a jab at Donald Trump is up for contention. But Del Rey did lead a call-to-battle via Twitter back in February to oust the US President from office through witchcraft.
In fact, the second half of Lust For Life is heavy on worldly issues.
Brooding midtempo ballad Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind has Del Rey worrying about a music festival crowd’s children – and their children’s children – as nuclear tension rises in North Korea.
Meanwhile, God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It has euphoric-tinged gender equality written all over its dreamy arrangements.
The 16-track collection also marks the first time Del Rey opens up her studio to guests, each highlighting the album’s hallmark genres: hip-hop (The Weeknd on the title track/ A$AP Rocky on Summer Bummer and Groupie Love) and folk (Stevie Nicks on Beautiful People Beautiful Problems/ Sean Ono Lennon on Tomorrow Never Came).
But the most gleaming numbers are when Del Rey stands on her own (the simple ballad Change and rousing album closer Get Free), accompanied by ethereal and haunting music. Elsewhere, slow-burning 13 Beaches and sensual Cherry trawl that cinematic soundscape that made past releases like Young And Beautiful and Honeymoon instant classics.
At almost 75-minute long, there’s a grand ambition to Lust For Life that attests to Del Rey’s genius. But judging from that contented smile on the album cover, she probably already knows that.
Lana Del Rey
Lust For Life