Out of the black, into the blue – Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life

Lana Del Fuckin’ Rey did it again. She released a new album and it’s a bewitching, breathtaking audiovisual journey as usual. The work is called Lust for Life (it rolls off the tongue well), and it already sounded like a change in artistic direction for Del Rey. No more gloom and sadness? While dark Hollywood tales still have their room on the new record, the singer seems to have accepted fame and the shit it comes with, but also she accepted herself. Familiar love stories are included, but at some  Lust for Life surprisingly gets political too, and the issues she’s trying to raise are well-thought out. Lana Del Rey is fully grown now. ‘Gone is the burden’, she says. It’s like taking off the weighted clothing in Dragon Ball Z, making your power levels spike.

In recent years hit songs have been all about having some other artists do guest vocals. I’m not a big fan of this trend – not everyone can be like George Michael and Elton John doing Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me or Run DMC with Aerosmith and their Walk This Way. So when the second, eponymous single saw Lana’s collaboration with The Weeknd, I wasn’t that ecstatic at first. Save for few of his songs I’ve sometimes heard on the radio, I wasn’t – and still am not – familiar with his music. I did notice though, that he does sound a lot like MJ though, so you can’t possibly hate him. Lust for Life is a dreamy song with great harmonization between both singers. Beautiful voices proclaiming passionate love declarations, while dancing on Hollywood sign enhances this romantic imagery, and VHS blurred tape effect in the music video makes you nostalgic. Ways to sell Lana’s songs 101.

Having said all that, guess what, several other songs here feature other musicians as well.

For Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems Stevie Nicks joins in, the ultimate haunting voice of the 70s/80s. Well, this duo is like an actual Witches’ Sabbath. Nicks remains my favorite female singer ever, and I’m pretty sure her enchanting, mystical persona is something Del Rey drew from. I love how ‘dove’ and ‘video game’ are dropped off in the song, pretty sure those were intentional (Edge of Seventeen and Video Games come to mind).

Summer Bummer features A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti, and it’s Lana dabbling in rap, with heavy hip-hop beat carrying the song. There is certain level of badassery to Summer Bummer, it’s far more aggressive than most of her songs. The track goes against Summertime Sadness (don’t be a bummer), and it’s curious to watch the singer’s evolution. I mentioned the frequent use of colors on Honeymoon before, and the singer continuous to do it here,

White lies and black beaches
And blood red sangrias

It’s music, but Del Rey really tries to turn her songs into paintings.

Coachella – Woodstock in My Mind is a callback to that other time when America was at war. Apparently the tune is referencing the current escalation of conflict with North Korea – it’s nowhere near the level of the Vietnam War, and I doubt it will ever come down to a direct confrontation (‘Murica has no interest fighting a poor, no-oil country and Kim Jong-Un’s a monkey), but I somewhat understand where Del Rey’s worries are coming from. While people are having fun at music festivals, cinemas, sport events etc., there are these greater forces inducing fear among us, normal folk. The singer would trade everything she has for asking God the reason for all of this. It’s a highly spiritual piece.

When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing is another flower child Lana track, however she is not evoking the peace-loving ever-stoned hippies, but rather student campus activism in the 60s – she’s criticizing leadership and it’s a commentary on the social situation.

Is it the end of an era?
Is it the end of America?

According to the singer future’s looking pretty grim. One thing that came to light during Trump’s presidency is that the America was far more divided than the people thought, at least from my perspective. Whether his way of uncovering old wounds, while getting some new ones is a correct path, we’ll learn soon enough. Although I called When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing a critical piece, it’s way more about having some interest about what’s going on around you, and not shutting off, thinking everything’s gonna be ok – ‘we just want the fuckin’ truth’.

God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It – throw in some gunshots to the chorus, make the song grand, give it anthem-like treatment, and I’m honestly confused whether it is tongue-in-cheek or it’s serious.

Sean Ono Lennon co-penned Tomorrow Never Came, another great track off the new album. His voice reminds me of his dad, and also, T. Rex’s Marc Bolan. The song has The Beatles’ vibe to it. It’s about love that never happened.

And I could put on the radio to our favorite song
Lennon and Yoko, we would play all day long
“Isn’t life crazy?”, I said now that I’m singin’ with Sean

It’s such a great bit. It must feel amazing to get to the point, when you no longer only name-drop things you love, but you get to actually do music with the very people you like.

Another nod to The Beatles, all you need is… love

Eric Clapton had a hit with Cocaine. Lana Del Rey does Heroin instead. Ha. The song is pretty dark and mind-bending. The singer’s wailing to the sound of piano, organs and slow drums beat. Something to hallucinate to, like the stuff from Jefferson Airplane.

The final tune – Get Free – is among my favorites. That’s the game-changer track, the one that defines this new direction Lana Del Rey is undertaking. Drastically changing your life and the worldview is something that only you can do, you alone. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for some time, and it looks like Del Rey beat me to it, over the span of her 5 studio albums aka 7 years of career in music industry.

There’s so much optimism and hope in this song. The singer comes to terms with her problems.

I never really noticed that I had to decide

To play someone’s game or live my own life

And now I do

I wanna move

Out of the black (out of the black)

Into the blue (into the blue)

Those waves crashing and the seagulls fade-away sound… damn it gives me chills every time. It’s like the ending to an epic movie.

Lust for Life concludes on a hopeful note. It’s a record that is still growing on me. Does it top Honeymoon? Not sure yet. Some of the songs are 10/10, then again few of them seem forgettable. Nonetheless, together with Haim’s Something to Tell You, this album is my summer jam and I love the whole thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s