Lana Del Rey’s 3rd studio album has been out for several weeks now and I couldn’t be happier about getting more of that dark and gloomy pop music the singer is famous for. Honeymoon follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, telling stories of bad guys, toxic relationships, the radiance, and the darkness of Hollywood. Lana Del Rey’s jazzy brand of spiritual self-reflection is conveyed through complex, grandiose and dreamy sound. The songstress also remembers to pay homage to the same artists she seeks inspiration from.
Honeymoon opens with the title track, and one gets immediately sucked into the tangled love story which unmistakably has no happy ending in sight. The strings leave a lasting ominous impression, sort of like some of the old school James Bond theme tunes. Lana yet again flirts with guns and roses imagery but it is not necessarily a bad thing, when it’s executed so flawlessly.
Music to Watch Boys To kicks off with the a cappella intro and later on is driven by the whimsical intonation and a subtle, recurring flute theme. This one was released as the 2nd single and it certainly has that radio-friendliness quality. Apparently Del Rey described the song as one of her favorites off the album. It’s by no means bad, but the rest of the record is just so strong that Music ‘…’ falls flat for me.
Terrence Loves You is simply incredible. Apart from the obvious nod to David Bowie’s timeless Space Oddity (‘Ground control to Major Tom, Can you hear me all night long?’), this tune brings in the jazz and the blues, it celebrates the bygone era of the show biz. Gone, but never forgotten. The piano evokes the smoky bars of 1940s or 50s.
The next one is God Knows I Tried and it seems like a really personal confession of the artist. She invokes God in what appears to be a plea for solace and assistance – although she may have reached the top, her life is full of pain and distress.
I’ve got nothing much to live for
Ever since I found my fame
Let there be light
Light up my life
High By The Beach was Honeymoon’s lead single and despite the fact that someone may think that it’s purely about the use of recreational drugs, I believe the song is thematically a fair follow-up to God Knows I Tried, and it’s more about isolation and taking the time off from the spotlight and fame.
I’d put Freak and Art Deco in the same category – both are full of fire, passion and fuck-all attitude. Slightly remind me of Ultraviolence’s West Coast. I adore how Lana plays around with colors as a means to illustrate emotions – I wonder if anyone has ever run down how often ‘red’, ‘blue’ or ’silver’ make an appearance in lyrics.
What comes next is a spoken interlude – a poem entitled Burnt Norton originally penned by T.S Eliot. For anyone not familiar with that name, T.S Eliot along with James Joyce were perhaps two of the more important poets of the twentieth century, and in my opinion, both are crazy difficult and require much research to even scratch the surface of their artistic output. I don’t know why Lana picked this specific poem, but I do feel it fits in perfectly into themes of ‘Hollywood legends’ and the singers own life choices.
Religion is pretty much a counterpart to Money, Power, Glory. ‘Hallelujah, I wanna take you for all that you got’ becomes, ‘Hallelujah, I need your love’. The woman is hopelessly devoted to a guy. The song is very sexual, and spiritual because of its overarching metaphor. Not sure if it’s an alright comparison, but I find Hozier’s Take Me to Church to be a bit similar conceptually, yet of course both songs deal with entirely different issues.
I was confused when I heard Salvatore for the first time. Now I know – Lana Del Rey can easily pull off an Italian dark love story serenade. When I was a kid my mom used to sing a certain lullaby to me which had that air of nostalgia around it. Salvatore for me is reminiscent of those old time fables but there’s no happy twist at the end of it.
The Blackest Day and 24 are songs about relationships which have gone awry. The first one speaks about a peculiarly excruciating breakup, the latter is from a perspective of a woman who suffers again and again because of her lover.
What I don’t like about Swan Song is how it’s really a rant to quit singing (‘going away’ and ‘giving up’ themes worryingly frequently show their ugly faces).
Honeymoon wraps up with a cover of Nina Simone’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, and we already know that LDR understands how to use someone else’s songs for what they’re worth. She calls forth God again, and all she wants is to be treated right. Everyone makes mistakes and everybody makes wrong decisions, so it’s not fair to make shallow judgments. DLMBM is a satisfying closing track to a fantastic album. I’ll be religiously listening to it for a long while. Honeymoon is a 9/10 though the score may actually go up.