Lana Del Rey at Governors Ball 2015
Over five years since she dropped her debut LP and her birth name, the meteoric rise of Lana Del Rey has been shrouded in mythos and as wildly unpredictable as it is exhilarating. From contributing the monumental “Young and Beautiful” to Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” or the Cedric Gervais remix of “Summertime Sadness” giving the singer a glimpse of major Top 40 Radio airplay, the singer has been making incredible strides in spite of some less than favorable press regarding her SNL performance and views on feminism. While her lyricism may dance on a fine line of risqué themes, there is a point to be made in the important distinction between the person (birth name: Lizzy Grant) and the character that is Lana Del Rey.
On “Ultraviolence” we saw Del Rey taking her hyper-romanticism to new, dangerous heights, underscored by her work with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys giving a completely different sonic edge to the record. Laden with singles and potential major hits, the album itself showed the singer in a far different light than her initial releases. With “Honeymoon” there is a return to form in the sense that she abandons some of the more experimental production work she took with “Ultraviolence”, ditching hazy vocal effects and twangy guitars for the minimalist, jazzy, string compositions that float beneath her smooth, breathy voice. While she may have released singles like “High By The Beach” and the title track to give the fans a little taste for the record, the album has a far more cohesive nature to it making it better experienced in sequence. Each track reads more as a vignette into individual days in the life of Del Rey weaving through love and loss.
A graduate of Fordham University, Del Rey majored in Philosophy, studying metaphysics “I was interested in God and how technology could bring us closer to finding out where we came from and why,” the singer explained. With her deeper understanding of these concepts, Del Rey brings out her background more on this record on the track “Burnt Norton- Interlude” reading from the T.S. Elliot poem with ethereal sounds. The interlude works in well to the succeeding track “Religion” which combines two of the singer’s major influences, God and romance.
The record begins on “Honeymoon”, a James Bond-esque track where Del Rey sets the tone with vivid portraits of Hollywood excess with lines like “We could cruise to the blues/Wilshire Boulevard if we choose/Or whatever you wanna do/We make the rules.” Having been on the road earlier this year for her “Endless Summer Tour” the singer teased the track during her last show in West Palm Beach, FL where she sang the chorus in a soft acapella. Painting with her muted palette of dramatic strings, the musical end of the record is far more inhibited, seeing Del Rey occasionally making use of jazzy horn sections and trap beats a la “Born to Die.” Although, where limiting her musical references may have restricted her potential and been a major point of criticism on her major label debut, on “Honeymoon” it works more in her favor as a fresh means to provide a backdrop to the drama that is the life of Lana Del Rey.
With “Honeymoon” Lana Del Rey takes you along a cinematic journey that reads less as a soap opera and more as an experiential narrative into the world of philosophical concepts and lavish excess.