On her sixth major-label album, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” Lana Del Rey desires to get away from all of it.
After her nice, California-centric 2019 epic “Norman _____ Rockwell!,” possibly she’s simply craving a change of surroundings: “I’m ready to leave L.A. and I want you to come,” she proclaims on the brand new album’s wanderlustful first single, “Let Me Love You Like a Woman.” Other “Chemtrails” songs name-check stops on an American highway journey, from Yosemite to Lincoln to Tulsa. But on among the report’s most stirring moments, Del Rey appears to want a fair higher religious sense of oblivion: “I’m in the wind, I’m in the water, nobody’s son, nobody’s daughter,” she sings on the haunting title observe, sounding blissfully untethered. During the album’s opening quantity, “White Dress,” she pirouettes throughout the higher fringe of her vocal register, her ethereal falsetto evaporating into the area round her like a fleeting, soon-to-be-illegible piece of skywriting.
One of the album’s a number of stunners, “White Dress” is a melancholic, piano-driven tone poem that conjures the emotional depth of Cat Power and reimagines a “simpler time” when the narrator was a 19-year-old night-shift waitress in — of all of the locations in Norman Rockwell’s America — Orlando, Fla. But she felt completely happy, succesful: “When I was a waitress, wearing a white dress, like look how I do it, look how I got this.” The tempo is unhurried, and the tune saves a few of its most affecting revelations — “it kind of makes me feel like maybe I was better off” — for its unsettling remaining moments.
From the second she emerged with the semi-anachronistic torch tune “Video Games” in 2011, Del Rey has all the time branded herself an outdated soul. Like a lot of her music, “Chemtrails” usually bends backward to understand at an elusive and irretrievable prelapsarian state. (As she put it on considered one of her greatest songs, 2019’s unofficial anthem “The Greatest,” “nobody warns you before the fall.”) Sometimes the previous she glorifies is mass-cultural (the muted, subtly auto-tuned “Tulsa Jesus Freak” mines a Manson-family aesthetic much like Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”), however simply as usually on this report it’s sharply private, craving for a misplaced time when making music was a carefree passion and never Del Rey’s job. Throughout, “Chemtrails” finds her meditating on the worth of her artwork, questioning if it’s too late to get again to the backyard.
Fame is the album’s recurring boogeyman, most explicitly on the languidly guitar-driven “Dark but Just a Game,” which Del Rey has mentioned takes its title from one thing her producer Jack Antonoff mentioned to her whereas they had been musing in regards to the tragic fates of so many stars. (“Chemtrails” reunites Del Rey with Antonoff, who co-produced “Norman” together with her and as soon as once more offers her billowing voice the suitable quantity of compositional elbow room.) “The cameras have flashes, they cause the car crashes,” she sings on the gently surging “Wild at Heart” — one other spotlight. On two different events she references “Candle in the Wind,” that masscult elegy that Elton John barely wanted to transform to suit the fates of each Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana.
Easy as it may be to neglect, although, the actual slab of blue over the nation membership is hardly all the sky. This finite perspective makes “Chemtrails” extra of a minor providing than “Norman _____ Rockwell!,” which took large swings and sometimes linked, capturing one thing that had been tough to articulate about her era’s bigger sense of malaise. Perhaps to keep away from repeating herself, “Chemtrails” finds Del Rey scaling again, searching for extra insular perception.
When all of its virtues are working in tandem — wealthy melodies, compositional surprises, only-Lana-would-say-it turns of phrase — Del Rey’s music casts an engrossing spell. But within the moments when its tempos and timbres develop a bit repetitive, as they did on her sleepy 2015 album “Honeymoon” and do for a several-song stretch in the course of this album, its limitations come into focus. “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” builds a refrain round bumper-sticker knowledge, whereas obscure lyrics like “let me love you like a woman, let me hold you like a baby” lack the specificity of her higher songs.
At greatest, Del Rey’s hyper-referential music convincingly recreates the actual feeling of encountering artwork in a postmodern age, when the previous is so cluttered with worthwhile cultural artifacts that every thing new reminds one, at the least just a little bit, of one thing outdated. But as she dances on that high-quality line between evoking and signifying, Del Rey generally dangers outsourcing her profundity to issues different artists have mentioned extra vividly earlier than.
Such is the gamble of ending an album with a Joni Mitchell cowl — although right here that’s a danger Del Rey pulls off. On a stunning, reverent and harmony-enlivened rendition of “For Free,” she is joined by the musicians Zella Day and Natalie Mering (who information as Weyes Blood), and in Mitchell’s strains finds echoes with most of the questions she’s been pondering in regards to the relative worth of artwork and the distortions of fame. The tune comes from Mitchell’s 1970 LP “Ladies of the Canyon,” but when “Chemtrails” has a kindred spirit in Mitchell’s discography, it’s 1972’s “For the Roses,” her personal “leaving Los Angeles” album, which Mitchell composed within the solitude of her stone cottage on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.
By the top of “Chemtrails,” although, Del Rey has discovered solace not in solitude however solidarity, particularly with different ladies. The album regains momentum on its remaining trio of songs, that are abruptly populated with different feminine voices and names. (In addition to Day and Mering on “For Free,” Del Rey is joined by the nation artist Nikki Lane on a tune Lane wrote, “Breaking Up Slowly.”) The cathartic “Dancing Til We Die” finds her doing a late-night Louisiana two-step with an imagined clique of her musical heroes, a few of whom (Stevie Nicks, Joan Baez) Del Rey has already toured or collaborated with. “God, it feels good not to be alone,” she exhales, shortly earlier than the faint, lonely sound of a horn drifts into the combination, as if from one other bar down the highway. Momentarily, it leaves its mark within the blue, after which simply as shortly it’s gone.
Lana Del Rey
“Chemtrails Over the Country Club”