Lana Del Rey goes for slow and atmospheric on ‘Honeymoon’
Lana Del Rey is not the ‘I release an album every 3 or 4 years’ type of artist. After the release of her first major label release Born To Die she has been consistently working hard on new music, which resulted in the release of the Paradise EP and re-release at the end of 2012 and brand new album Ultraviolence in 2014. Now, somewhat more than a year later, she already has a new one out, called Honeymoon. This raises the question if Del Rey has to compromise when it comes to quality with this constant output of new music.
The answer to this is not a simple yes or no. The fact is that Del Rey set the bar incredibly high with her flawless Born To Die debut on which literally every track was built up from numerous strong hooks and every single one of them was hit worthy. On Ultraviolence she dropped the hiphop beats and went with a darker band sound, which disappointed some, but still delivered enough brilliant tunes to make a great record. On Honeymoon everything is even slower and built on strings and more orchestral productions. It’s less instant than the two previous efforts, but if you give it some time at least a few of the tracks will come and get you.
This however does not go for title track and first promo single ‘Honeymoon‘. You can wait six minutes for something to happen, but a hook or any recognizable melody will not come around. Luckily she did right this wrong by releasing the brilliant, understated, but damn catchy ‘High By The Beach‘ next. It’s safe to say this is the most instant and radiofriendly song on there. Like the (promo)singles, Honeymoon is a bit of a hit and miss album, although the vast majority is more than listenable.
‘Music To Watch Boys To’ is typical Lana Del Rey, but the chorus is one of the better on the record and the production just works.’Terrence Loves You’ is atmospheric, but has her wailing and extending syllables a bit too much. ‘God Knows I Tried’ is in the same style but her begging and pleading work in the context of the song, making it one of the more emotional and personal things she has ever recorded. ‘Freak’, ‘Art Deco’ and ‘Religion’ are all servicable album tracks, but just feel like Lana Del Rey by the numbers and don’t stand out either lyrically, production wise or melodically and therefore add exactly nothing new to Del Rey’s signature sound.
‘Salvatore’ however is a fun twist on her big orchestral sound with soaring choruses. Del Rey saved the best songs for last this time around, if we just forget about the pale cover of Nina Simone’s ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’. Her jazzy vocals shine on ’24’ and the atmosphere of the track takes us back to long lost times. An absolute highlight. ‘The Blackest Day’ might even be the best song on there as it has every element that makes Del Rey such an exciting pop star. It’s vivacious, dramatic and the build up is lush. Hook after hook after hook is thrown at you and even after six minutes you don’t want it to stop. Although the quality on Honeymoon is not as constant as on Born To Die, when she gets it right, she still sounds absolutely breathtaking.
In those four years she has crushed every critic saying she was just a one trick pony or degraded her artistry to just an act. Of course her signature style is clearly recognizable, but she has been able to vary enough to make three compelling albums with personal stories out of it and she will continue to do so in the (probably near) future. Although she sounds more than convincing on the gorgeous ‘Swan Song’, I am not willing to believe her when she dramatically belts out: “And I will never sing again!” She has to, keep ’em coming please!
Must listen: The Blackest Day, High By The Beach, 24, Swan Song, Music To Watch Boys To