Lana Del Rey surprise-releases “Honeymoon”
Reverent, muted and nuanced, Lana adds a third notch to her discography. | zimbio.com
“We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me / but you don’t go ‘cause there’s nobody for you but me.” If Lana Del Rey’s latest record has a mission statement, this is it. The first two lines on the opening title track sum up her career in a remarkably self aware way. Taken line by line, the first lyric is somewhat ironic, considering just how undeniably fashionable Del Rey is.
Sense of Irony
Aside from the fact that “Honeymoon” has an alternative cover exclusive to, well, Urban Outfitters, Del Rey has always been a trendsetter, while simultaneously brushing off any notion of being contrived or calculated. Del Rey’s sense of irony is her bread and butter. She navigates both sides of innocence and scandal effortlessly, weaving both together throughout her catalogue, and that connection is undoubtedly clear on “Honeymoon.”
Sonically, the album is alarmingly muted. While Del Rey has always experimented with film noir musical aesthetics, it feels like she has now discovered the reverence found in hymnals and film scores. Again, we can find Del Rey combining two worlds flawlessly. When Del Rey breaks this reverence, it marks a seismic shift in tone, with “High By the Beach” pulling in a trap beat that can be borderline eerie when paired with her rich harmonies on the chorus. Either way, it works, and the lead single propels the dichotomies found on the record in both sound and lyrical tone.
Del Rey is distinctly American in ways other artists cannot claim. Earlier images of her career show her draped in American flags, donning tattered Budweiser shirts and even Native American headdresses. Cultural appropriation aside, there has always been something about her sound recalling the disillusionment of modern American society. This could stem from my inability to disassociate her voice from Jay Gatsby’s existential struggle for meaning in Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of the great American novel. However, I am more inclined to think Lana’s subtleties are behind this.
Clearly, it is reductive to pigeonhole her music as merely sad. Del Rey’s voice dips in and out of these songs, illuminating feelings of pessimism and failed attempts at escapism. In doing so, she has never felt so convincing and authentic, entirely due to the nuances found on her latest offering.
“Honeymoon” certainly does not mark the first time Lana flirts with religious themes. Her cameo as Eve in her Biblically themed short film “Tropico” is evidence of this. Regardless, the reverence on this record is clear. Lana is far more comfortable enjoying the subtleties of keyboards and her voice, occasionally shedding strings from her repertoire, and toying with the connection she finds between herself and minimal instrumentation. The sum of these parts is a stark, wonderfully melancholy road trip through the reverence we have for an American dream we cannot understand.