Lana Del Rey
Lust For Life


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 21st, 2017 | 188 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's better than I ever even knew

Del Rey’s vintage look and feel has always seemed like a gimmick. She wants us to imagine flower-haired children running barefoot through the grass, protesters brandishing acoustic guitars while passing a joint around, and pin-up models helping an entire gender break free from repression. Basically, she's one of the best 1960s pop stars to be born in 1985, now playing the part of hipster fodder at age thirty two. Aside from the obvious fact that her approach has been extremely successful, Lana still finds herself inexplicably fading away – a product of Honeymoon’s relative flatness and diminishing overall returns on a sound that hasn’t changed since she first broke through with 2011’s ‘Video Games.’ On an album where it would have been sensible to expect some sort of observable departure, Lust For Life ends up bringing us even more of the absolute same stuff…and somehow it ends up being her best record to date. I’d offer some insight into why this makes sense, but it doesn’t. That’s the odd thing about music, and especially Elizabeth Grant’s stubbornly antiquated style: you never know how, when, or why it will all come together and suddenly make sense – it just does. For Lana Del Rey, Lust For Life seems to be that moment.

Del Rey’s music has seen very few shifts over the years, so there’s no denying that this record’s appeal comes from something other than a Weeknd feature. Personally, I think that this album feels more vital and fresh not because of what resides inside of it – although there are statements to be made to that point – but rather due to the circumstances surrounding it. Context has a lot of power in music, and Lana’s motifs never fully resonated when progressive ideas and liberal movements seemed to be at an all-time high. In the current political climate, however, many people are looking for their version of a protest; some sort of generational push equivalent to the flower movement of the late 60s and early 70s. With references to Woodstock, gun violence, the president, and much more, Lust For Life finally sees Lana Del Rey’s message coming into its own. Her throwback image feels ironic in the age of “making America great again”, while her forlorn voice and potent free-spirit imagery now seems more contextual than gimmicky. It’s like the past came to her, and the vibe that spreads across Lust For Life feels like an aligning of the stars.

“You’re part of the past, but now you’re the future”, Del Rey dreamily sings as the curtain opens on ‘Love’, a song that bolsters her trademark cynicism with the faint sound of a gunshot as she lithely breathes out the words, “to be young and in love.” It’s hard to discern whether Lana has become a better lyricist capable of more subtle irony in her music, or if the external climate of the music has people like me digging for additional meaning. Either way, it’s little moments like this that etch a slight separation between Lust For Life and its predecessors. Whereas many of the loosely political or social metaphors of the past have felt artificially constructed, here they sound genuine. On ‘Change’, when she sings “There's a change gonna come, I don't know where or when / But whenever it does, we'll be here for it”, there’s an underlying bitterness that almost feels confrontational. When ‘God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women In It’ rolls around, the “God bless America” is followed quickly by two loud gunshots. On ‘When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing’, she ponders, “Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America?” I don’t want to over-politicize the album (it’s probably too late), but it’s clear that these words that Lana Del Rey has been singing – this image she’s been peddling – now means something to her, even if it started as little more than a marketing ploy. She finds herself front-and-center in a dream-laden, flowery protest album that sounds as though it was transposed from the precise era that she’s always desperately sought to emulate.

Lust For Life brings a lot to the table outside of its political elements, although it’s nothing we haven’t heard from her before. She romanticizes just about everything – even toxic relationships – and keeps the pace of the entire experience somewhere between a dream and a slow walk along the California coastline. The experience runs seventy-two minutes long, which is usually a death sentence for a pop record, but Lust For Life gets away with it in part because it is so easy to get lost in. The starkest differences between this record and her others – even her biggest success to date, Born to Die – is the overall consistency from start to end. Lana Del Rey has historically been a mixed-bag artist, where it’s oftentimes more beneficial to the listener to stash away the gems within a playlist than it is to subject her or himself to an hour of dreary nostalgia. The stylings that compose her musical approach have not been drastically altered, and Lust For Life may still at times present a challenge to get through in its entirety, but it’s the most listenable and gradually shifting piece in her catalogue. Considering that she may never totally shake up her sound, this is the most significant development of her six year career.

Chalk Lust For Life up as a pleasant surprise. Given the trajectory of the albums leading up to this, it seemed like Lana Del Rey was on a gradual but undeniable collision course with irrelevance. Each release felt like a slightly more diluted version of an experience that hit us hard and fast on Born to Die. This is an undeniable resurgence, and it comes without Ms. Grant having to change much at all. Call it the political/social context, or perhaps consistent songwriting – but the only thing I can be sure of is that this rivals her best work. On top of that, it has about fifty percent less “clunkers” to boot. If you had plans to skip over this release (just as I did), then I advise that you reconsider. Even if Lust For Life isn’t a game changer, it fulfills the potential of a sound that she has been slowly perfecting since she first entered the scene. The album, like Lana Del Rey, has earned the right not to be overlooked.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
July 21st 2017


24819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I expected this to be terrible and I was wrong.

Digging: Billy Corgan - Ogilala

PumpBoffBag
July 21st 2017


880 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

cannot wait to listen to this

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 21st 2017


24819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

If you 4'd BTD, then this should be a 3.5 at worst, in my opinion. The peaks aren't as high but it's way more consistent.

PumpBoffBag
July 21st 2017


880 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good to know man. BTD is a pretty special album to me and the title track from this made me so nostalgic for it. I'm biased af when it comes to this girl, actually can't get enough.



Superb review too, btw. great summary.

Corney
July 21st 2017


169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'll listen to this soon. I absolutely hated the singles so I'm not to optimistic.

BrushedRed
July 21st 2017


2548 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The strong points here are very strong and some of her best (Love, 13 Beaches, Change), but I felt it had a lot of stuff packed in I didn’t jive with and kinda bored me (Summer Bummer, Coachella, God Bless America). I still think Honeymoon is her best. Regardless, 13 Beaches is probably the best song she’s ever done; definitely among my favorite songs this year.

ShitsofRain
July 21st 2017


8007 Comments


I expected this to be terrible and I was wrong.


how could you

Tunaboy45
July 21st 2017


15521 Comments


Well I'm just a modern guy, of course I've had it in the ear before

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 21st 2017


24819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

ty pump, much appreciated!



the jury still seems to be out on this, which is expected. every LDR album seems to result in divided opinions.

literallyzach
July 21st 2017


436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

loving this album but might take my rating down to a 4.0 after a few listens, on my third now. god bless america rules and 13 beaches ended mental illness forever

Digging: Fatima Al Qadiri - Shaneera

deadrisingx1
July 21st 2017


74 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is great, a breath of fresh air.

However, I'm gonna have to get used to the rapping. Normally I despise A$AP Rocky and he makes Summer Bummer pretty irritating to listen to at times.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 21st 2017


24819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yeah the A$AP songs are my least favorite as well

Gyromania
July 21st 2017


22937 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Doesn't even come remotely close to born to die but there are some great tracks here. I hate her tendency to drone on over am ambient track with not much else going on. It made her last two albums sleep inducing. I like her best when she's using strings and cool samples with infectious hooks. People praise the latter half of this, but a lot of it sounds incredibly mundane to me, as if she's boring herself and going through the motions

TVC15
July 21st 2017


8576 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Shit this already dropped? I loooove Born to Die

Digging: Carcass - Heartwork

literallyzach
July 21st 2017


436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

born to die is kind of corny tbh

Gyromania
July 21st 2017


22937 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Born to die is grandiose and diverse and frequently beautiful. Lyrically it's corny, but id take corny sentimentality any day over monotony

deadrisingx1
July 21st 2017


74 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Speaking of Born to Die, I'd always crack up whenever I was asked what my favorite album was. I'm torn between Ultraviolence and The Paradise Edition and I still am.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 21st 2017


24819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

agreed with gyro on BTD



this isn't as beautiful as that song or album but IMO it's less corny and way more consistent start -> end, minus the damn A$AP tracks

Corney
July 21st 2017


169 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'll choose for you it's Ultraviolence.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 21st 2017


24819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@deadrising: ultraviolence was my fave before this (now they're tied)...btd is below both



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