Review Summary: Rebound!
At this stage, imaginative introductory paragraphs for Lana del Rey's latest musical offering have become difficult to write. She has already established herself well enough in the cultural environment, rendering them somewhat obsolete. Besides, given her very limited appearance before media, and reservedness when it comes to expressing herself outside her music, it is impossible to figure out exactly what is going through her head, so as to associate it with this album in a manner that could adequately preface this review. These days, Lana has chosen to avoid the spotlight, instead favoring some form of Princessly seclusion, challenging the most devoted of fans to decipher the mystification. I have to admit that I am not that
big of a fan, and thus, I can't come up with a more creative way to introduce Honeymoon.
When Ultraviolence came out last June, I criticised it heavily. Somehow, the summer heat and energy were very uninviting to the monotony and dreariness that the album offered. Its overly-depressed mood was just too contrasting for that time of the year, unlike Born to Die (2012), which was more varied and offered some more melody and hooks.
Well, this year, LDR has chosen the beginning of autumn as the release date, and this seems more apt considering the musical theme of Honeymoon. Similarly to Ultraviolence, the songs are again quite dark and gloomy. Yet, they are less... morbid. There is more groove here, and although hooks are only hinted at, and not realised to the full, they are prominent enough to provide for a coherent and entrancing set of compositions. Despite the depressed mood, these songs don't... depress, but rather captivate and entice, in a manner conducive to relaxation.
Even though Lana typically likes to evoke allusions to a more discreet and dated side of America, the songs here have a more modern vibe, not attached to any particular trend, but modern still, Lana's way. I can easily see some of those tracks being used as part of the soundtrack for a new film, be it a blockbuster or a B movie.
Don't get me wrong, though. The songs may serve as a great accompaniement to some other activity, but they are definitely not "background music". A lot of depth and layering is present in them, allowing for the listener's satisfaction and understanding to rise with each subsequent play. In contrast to Born to Die, however, this depth does not arise from the development and progression of a song (e.g. through abrupt transitions or mood changes), but is rather contained within very subtle cues and nuances that challenge for a more involved scrutiny and immersion. This makes Honeymoon sound somehow both repetitious and diverse at the same time. Thus, the affection for the album is nurtured in a sort of creeping, less obvious way, rather than in a more instant, in-your-face once.
Within Lana del Rey's musical chronology, I can see Born to Die as being the album that was supposed to serve as the attention attractor for her future discographic arc, buying you as a listener. Honeymoon, on the other hand, is so far her most developed and layered record, and is also likely to provoke the most discussion and debate in the future.
I can see a notable sense of thematic progression in her trio of LPs: If Born to Die was the ramblings of an indolent and immature narcissist basking in delusions of grandeur, imagining herself in various future roles, and if Ultraviolence was the nadir, the absolute zero of possible human existence, Honeymoon has definitely moved on to a more concrete and definite sense of self. Lana is slowly, very slowly, coming to peace with herself.
If you listen to songs like Freak, 24 and the final track (although a cover), you can clearly hear something like redemption and... triumph. Incidentally, there is a track by the name of Swan Song here. I hope it is nothing foreboding, though -- Lana still has a lot of songs within her, waiting to be written and sung.
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