It’s risky, it’s bold and it’s way outside typical mainstream taste. We knew it was going to be glamorously quirky, after all it is our 80’s obsessed Lana Del Rey who released the 9 minute tale of “Venice B-” late last year, but I don’t believe we expected it to be so… creatively entertaining, both politically and personally.

 

The Title

If you’re not familiar with Norman Rockwell, in a nutshell, he was an incredibly well-known American artist that drew covers for the Saturday Evening Post and World War 2. Lana describes the language put in the middle of his name to act as an “exclamation mark” – as if to say “so, this is the American dream, right now Norman…We’re going to go to Mars, and Trump is president.” Back with your sarcastic alphabet of tricks huh, Lana.

 

The Cover

We’ve got a film-type glaze of Lana and model Duke Nicholson on the album cover, holding each other on a boat on a beautiful sunny day, the American flag waving in the background. The artwork, shot by Lana’s sister, tends to give off a rather nostalgic and cinematic vibe. Lana is well known for standing by her love for California and comes across as quite the homebody, as well as having a rather indiscreet political view – so the flag makes sense. The man I took to be the man described in “NFR” is arm up, ignoring the camera with a scowl, like the charming know-it-all character Lana describes in the track. But wait, is Lana smiling? Correct, and later we see that her approach to this album is a little lighter than what we’re used to.

 

Some Of The Magic

The album leads with “NFR”, and boy is it something else. “God damn, man child,” is the album’s first line, bringing an immediate smirk to your lips and a ‘here-we-go’ feeling building in the heart’s center. “NFR” continues, giving your ears an intense cardio workout with its brilliant one liners wrapped around lush piano ballads – but it’s not just you that feels this way, “You F’d me so good I almost said I love you” has now become a trending hashtag on Twitter.

“F it I love you” was a close-to-be-favourite of mine, laced with notions of dreamy rock-ballads and electric guitar. Love as a concept is so incredibly multi-faceted and I feel Lana captures every single emotion in her verses and makes a point in the chorus to indeed conclude it’s the feeling of love that comes out as the strongest and has us swallow the fight. Of course, she released the music video to “F It I Love You” with another title on the album, “The Greatest” just to be extra cool and make a 9-minute music video sensation.

“California” is another hit that has a listener’s headspace in a spin. Lyrics, “You don’t ever have to be stronger than you really are” as an offering of advice to an ex really struck me on a personal level (she definitely does that philosophical thing where she tugs at thoughts you didn’t know you had until you heard her lyrics). Bittersweet and beautiful, Lana sings “You said to a friend that you wish you were doing better. I wanted to call you, but I didn’t say a thing”.

We then have “The Next Best American Record” sirens and broken glass sounds going on in the background. You see, with an artist like this, slow and tender in her vocals, you’re able to physically hear all the gems usually hidden in the tracks. Listening has you completely lost in Lana’s world for a while, her old-love idealistic in nature. They’d spend hours talking of how they planned to conquer this dream of creating the best American record. “You made me feel like there’s something that I never knew I wanted” Lana sings.

Like many of us with our rose-tinted goggles in place, sometimes we generously give our hearts to non-substantial ideas, just for the fun of it for the time-being. We ignore the warnings (alarm bells) and signs (broken glass) right in front of us because we’re romanticising visionaries, us human beings.

There is no-one out there that even slightly resembles Lana Del Rey and she shows to remain herself throughout a pretty grueling industry. Proof of this is the track and my ultimate favourite, “Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have, but I have it” released January this year and now number 14 on this new album. The lowercase sentence styling is conversational and being spelt out in full length is sure to convey the entire message to those that just skip through track lists. The melody is stunning and the lyrics hit you slowly at first, and then all at once.

She leaves this song as she leaves every song – up to the listeners interpretation. For me I’m left with the idea Lana stands as America here, a symbol for the whole country, its dreams and its dreamers. She also stands for herself, the title bold and without care of what the mainstream audience will think; hope seems to transform her pain into experience, melancholia into knowledge. She is a dangerous woman, “the most famous woman on the iPad”, and she has hope for the future of the modern woman.

This is an album I recommend listening from start to finish. Trust me, don’t pull the songs apart, they work best in the way they flow together – crafted by producer Jack Antonoff. Make time, slow down, go for a drive and give this work of art the time it deserves.

By Emma Ellwood

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