America’s queen of modern psychedelia , Lana Del Rey , released her much-anticipated fifth album at the end of August this year.
Titled Norman F***ing Rockwell (NFR), the album is named after the artist , Norman Rockwell, who was famous for representing American culture throughout the 1940s and 1950s in his paintings. In many ways, the album is a “Classic Lana” in the sense that each song possesses a cinematic quality drenched in Hollywood glamour (a sad-girl soundtrack for the ages) with its themes of romance and melancholia. Del Rey’s contralto vocals melt into a sweet, burning mahogany that has matured over her expansive discography and the eponymous opening track features an operatic strings sequence reminiscent of a film noir soundtrack. One imagines Del Rey at a grand piano singing to an empty music hall, as her illustrative vocals are dripping with both intimacy and gravity. A master of rich imagery and story-telling, Del Rey seamlessly paints places and protagonists with her music. Her Americana is broken New York dreams, the elusive bar singer, the crying prom queen and the lover of a dangerous man all in one. “Mariners Apartment Complex” invokes the spirit of the Eagles’ “Hotel California” from 1976 whilst recurring themes of freedom permeate the lyrics-something that is especially poignant in our current political climate. Del Rey clearly reinvigorates the old belief of music as a driver of social change.
If only we would all stop to listen.