For the last decade, Lana Del Rey has consistently put out stunning albums. Very few missteps, each album seemed to be an improvement over the previous. Her aesthetic was – and is – unwavering. Dedicated to a timeless cool imbued with fashion and nostalgia, she was both in vogue and hopelessly out of fashion. Not unlike another female icon – Nico, who did her own thing from the 60’s until her untimely death in the 80’s. There’s been many think pieces critiquing Lana’s every move – what she said, what she meant, who she was with. It never ends, it seems. All of this obscures the fact that the music she puts out is consistently great. 2021’s Chemtrails Over The Country Club might be her best album yet.
Her 7th album starts off with a trifecta of tracks. White Dress dials back the beats and is an ode to her pre fame days – or a lament mourning days gone by. Your choice. Her lyrics put us right in the scene “Summer, sizzling / Listening to jazz out on the lawn / Listening to White Stripes when they were white-hot / Listening to rock, all day long”. It’s a stunning start to the record. The title track follows and follows the “Lana Template” – evocative vocals, atmosphere building as the track progresses. Her vocal performance is outstanding – at times vulnerable, at others assertive. She seems to be skewering and yet reveling in the suburban life. True story – I knew a guy who believed Bill Gates was involved in chemtrails over suburban Seattle. Tulsa Jesus Freak is a perfect song title – fortunately, the song lives up to the title. It’s another slow build – she playfully invokes the name of Jesus while trading in verses about gin, sex, and a famous Elton John song. She’s underplaying her vocals, so she really belt it at the chorus – which isn’t the title. Everything leads to the “white hot forever” refrain. Stunning. Dark But Just A Game can be viewed as a throwback Lana song – whispered vocals, hip hop beats, and a longing ever present. It’s incredible. She’s talking about “the fame monster” as Lady Gaga once sang about. Here, Lana is defiant as she sings “We keep changing all the time / The best ones lost their minds / So I’m not gonna change / I’ll stay the same”. Not All Who Wander Are Lost has a clunky opening line – “I’ve been wearing the same damn clothes / For three damn days” – but stick with it, it is one of the best songs she’s ever done. A ballad of epic proportions, she sings the chorus in a layered falsetto which is incredibly impactful. Her detractors will find much to dissect in her lyrics in this song. She hints at regrets, drinks with lovers, saying no (maybe) before saying yes (maybe). The album ends with For Free – a collaboration with Zella Day & Weyes Blood. It’s a piano lament as each artist gets a verse with their perspective on fame and offer commentary on a street performer. Lana’s verse sits in the ether – feeling a like a relic from the past yet guides us to the future. It’s a fitting end to an almost perfect album. “Now me I play for fortunes / And those velvet curtain calls / I got a black Limousine and two gentlemen / Who escort me through these halls / And I’ll play if you got the money / Or if you’re a friend to me / But the one-man band / By the quick lunch stand / He was playing real good for free”.
Another year, another great Lana Del Rey album. There’s another one coming in June. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Verdict: Another Masterpiece
For Fans Of: Frank Sinatra, Scott Walker, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Dean Martin
- White Dress
- Chemtrails Over the Country Club
- Tulsa Jesus Freak
- Let Me Love You Like A Woman
- Wild At Heart
- Dark But Just A Game
- Not All Who Wander Are Lost
- Breaking Up Slowly
- Dance Till We Die
- For Free