Written By: Brandon Basile
Lana Del Rey’s long anticipated fifth studio album, Lust for Life, has finally come to us here in late July though we’ve been anxious for her new tunes and croons since the album’s first single “Love” dropped in February. Now that the album is finally here we all can’t wait to hear what our velvet songstress is bringing to us. And if that album cover isn’t a picture of some kind of paradise then I don’t know what is. A long-time fan of Lana since “Blue Jeans” and “Video Games” from her debut album Born To Die this one is coming to you hot off the presses.
A Beauty By The Cover
For starters let’s talk about this album cover and title. Del Rey has become known for her stark and dark album covers as they have often perfectly captured the haunting melancholy feel of her sound. Yes, she has songs about paradise of course, but her smiling on this album cover is a pleasant surprise. She is a blues woman at heart which if you haven’t learned that from listening to her previous albums this album will definitely drive the point home. Lana flashing us a smile on this album cover feels very fitting knowing how vulgar and guttural her lyrics can be discussing topics such as love and romance, but also sex, drugs, and depression. This album cover creates an interesting juxtaposition because with as much as her previous works exude her sexuality and the gloom shrouding her artistic character, her gracing us with a pleasant smile with flowers in her hair is a refreshing touch. She is presented as an american maiden, flowers in her hair and bulky pick-up truck right behind her which she could surely drive once she takes the keys out of her pocket. A lot of the themes of the album deal with observation of the state of America specifically, youth, freedom, and seeking to soothe pains of the world as a whole. I also appreciate that the album is titled Lust for Life instead of The Lust for Life because as it stands with Lust for Life sounds like it could be a command phrase telling the listener to lust for life, an imperative command to go out and seek more life like you would yearn for love and lust the most indulgent. May we find everything that she has laid out for us when we dive into this project.
Is you lusting or naw?
As the chorus of the title track, assisted by superstar The Weeknd, tells us “a lust for life keeps us alive”. This title song does well to capsulate the motivational/inspirational spirit of the album. The album as a whole seems void of sexual references that one might expect from the lust inspiring title. Throughout the album Del Rey makes a point of speaking on topics of classic American and pastoral life with songs like “Coachella- Woodstock on My Mind”, “Change”, and “Get Free”. These songs really shine lyrically and the depth is appreciated, somewhat necessary due to the heavy melancholy tone of Del Rey’s honey coated vocals. The lyricism makes one wonder if she had picked up lyric writing notes from her romantic partner, rapper A$AP Rocky, who delivers 2 feature verses on the album, but it is ironic that she is taking a stance to speak on issues whereas he outwardly spoke against audiences expecting him to be vocal on societal issue. I respect her taking the higher road. Her sentiments feel sincere and heartfelt.
Del Rey’s sultry vocals definitely need to make the cross over into doing more vocals for hip-hop songs. On “Summer Bummer”, which features A$AP Rocky and Playboy Carti, Del Rey delivers a haunting texture to an aggressively Hip-Hop/ Trap Rap, beat. This song, as with many of the songs on the album, lack a mainstream singable chorus that could help the songs catch on, but with Del Rey’s iconic and unique voice online djs and producers will likely flip the vocals into some good mixes for those who can’t handle the blues of the album.
Del Rey’s Lust for Life as a whole is absent of the ideas of lust that you might expect, this isn’t Prince from the 80s, but there is still much feels and depth to be had in this album. Del Rey continues to be vocally and lyrically compelling here more so than in her earlier works. Her tender bluesy nature is juiced by hip-hop beats and thoughts on American life and questions of who will care for the children and the future that we are walking into. “Is this the end of America?” is a good and necessary question for us to ponder in times like these, but you still may need some whiskey, brandy, or other drugs to get to the proper vibe for this one though.