Our Lady in Sadness is Back, and if the first few releases are any indication, this is probably my favorite album yet.
Oh, Lana. Your dark, twisted Hollywood noir style has long fascinated the internet and won over hard-earned fans everywhere. With a rocky start somehow compounded by the fact that people loved you but didn’t want to because of the whole Lizzie Grant thing, you’ve since flourished far beyond the fascination of the internet surrounding the music video for Video Games and into a genre somehow comprised entirely of you.
Lana is a true artist.
A visionary, shrouded in mystery, who’s personal life is reported on almost always with a question at the end—because we don’t really know. We can only assume. And I love it. I am here for artists that live rich lives outside of the public eye. It allows me to daydream about things like the romance she’s been in with A$AP Rocky that I made up in my head after the video for National Anthem dropped four years ago. That embarrassing personal tidbit was given only so you can properly imagine my excitement, then, when she released 2 songs off the album featuring Lord Pretty Flacko. Summer Bummer has been on repeat for weeks now.
But, not today! Because today the entirety of Lust for Life has been delivered and I am here to give you an honest track-by-track reaction to the contents. Let’s get into it.
Love / Lust for Life (feat. The Weeknd) / 13 Beaches / Cherry / White Mustang / Summer Bummer (feat. A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti) / Groupie Love (feat. A$AP Rocky) / In My Feelings / Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind / God Bless America – And All Beautiful Women In It / When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing / Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems (feat. Stevie Nicks) / Tomorrow Never Came / Heroin / Change / Get Free
Love was the first single released off of Lust for Life, and it paints a dreamy outsider’s perspective of today’s youth, Del Rey speaking to the enthusiasm and determination in the face of adversary that somehow still prevails even in the troubled present day. It’s sound is cautiously optimistic, the end of the song bringing Lana down from her introspective cloud and into the thick of it with the rest of us. Ending with the lyrics, “don’t worry baby”, it leaves off on a sense that she’s trying to comfort all of us, a sentiment I can’t say I’ve ever experienced listening to Lana Del Rey.
2. Lust for Life
The title track of the album, featuring The Weeknd existing in the same celestial plane in which Lana lives in the ‘H’ on the Hollywood sign. I respect their collaboration, the combination of their voices both pleasant and assuring that I will never be able to hit those notes. Overall, though, it doesn’t give me any particular rush of emotion. Lust is pretty but I will never seek the track out on its own merits.
3. 13 Beaches
Immediately the into retracts the familiarity Lana gave us on Love. “I don’t belong in this world, that’s what it is / Something separates me from other people.” Which isn’t a negative interpretation, this is the Lana that captured our hearts on her previous albums. When the chorus sets in, I can feel myself experiencing the same nostalgia she has a gift for imparting towards people, memories, and places that I have definitely never actually experienced.
The very beginning of the guitar on Cherry reminds me immediately of The Eagle’s Hotel California, but that feeling quickly fades when the bass kicks in. Her vocals here are phenomenal. We’re proved once more that while the intention behind the album is a new, less hazy, less moody atmosphere, Lana doesn’t stray too far from her roots. This song is one I can tell will grow on me with more listens. The end of some phrases being punctuated with “fuck” and others a high-note “bitch!” also endlessly entertains me.
5. White Mustang
I’m a huge fan of the production on this album. The introduction of hip-hop sounding beats is what I needed with Lana Del Rey. The song starts slow, but it builds slowly in layers that compliment each other well. It also leads into the next song cohesively, which is the track I am still most excited about.
6. Summer Bummer
Thank you for this song, Lana. Thank you Play Boi Carti, A$AP Rocky, and Boi1da. Boi1da is the producer behind numerous hip-hop flagship tracks and an in-house producer for Drake’s OVO label. When the bass drops after Lana’s croon, “Wrap you up in my daisy chains,” his credentials become unnecessary, the seamless blend with her vocals and the beat building beautifully to A$AP’s verse. There are countless examples of different genres meeting in less than harmonious ways. Off the top of my head I can think of 3 different pop songs that had no business bringing in a rapper, making for a clunky addition in a suddenly disorganized song that both parties would have benefitted more from by not being a part of it. This is not one of those songs. Now, I could go on about Summer Bummer (why would you tease me with the line, “I just might make her my lover for real? Why???) but I will save you.
7. Groupie Love
Both A$AP tracks dropped at the same time, but even being aware of this and giving both several excited listens, Groupie Love most often slips my mind. It is a forgettable track, one of those songs more closely aligned with the mishmash I described in Summer Bummer than an outstanding example of two genres encouraging one another to shine.
8. In My Feelings
The chorus of this song is a sweeping example of why Lana is the queen of her own unique genre. Somehow both old and new, it sounds like a melody recovered and dusted off, then dropped on top of a slick, at times stuttering, beat. Just when Groupie Love leaves me entirely indifferent, this song ends the first half of the album on a high note.
9. Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind
Coachella introduces us to a facet of Lana Del Rey we haven’t heard before, one with a political opinion. In all her interviews preceding only the most recent and past albums, she’s existed in a plane of her own making. For the first time she ponders her contributions in a world where nuclear warfare is discussed as a very real possibility every other day. I would say, despite my adoration for Summer Bummer, this is the stand out song of Lust for Life.
10. God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It
This song continues the trend of social awareness, and it is a complete 180 from her opinion expressed in a 2012 issue of Fader, during which she was asked her stance on feminism. At the time her response was apathetic, “For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept… Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.” God Bless was inspired by the marches on Washington D. C. and the accompanying rallies around the world. It is always a pleasure to witness an artist’s growth, especially when its accompanied by a flirty Spanish guitar overlaid at the end.
11. When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing
“Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America?” You could quickly misjudge this song to be anti-American, but in the next breath she answers her own question, “No, it’s only the beginning / If we hold on to hope, we’ll have a happy ending.” A decidedly pleasant outlook from one of the world’s foremost voices on longing for another time, another place. I wouldn’t say the song is arresting in any particular regard, but its composition is wonderfully curated.
12. Beautiful People Beautiful Problems
Of course this would be the title to the song we get to experience a legend on in the form of Stevie Nicks. Their interview together preceding the album is just as lovely as the song itself, the two of them two sides of a wholly original coin. I would’ve preferred a hard-hitting, more Tusk-esque Stevie, but I suppose that’s a bit of a pipedream considering she’s long removed from her Fleetwood Mac days.
13. Tomorrow Never Came
I am excited to see the name ‘Lennon’ on most anything, but to be honest with you, I’ve joined the ranks of the critics by this point lamenting the sheer length of the album. Also, I’ve never heard anything by Sean Ono Lennon, but holy shit, he sounds just like his father. Another melodic meeting of new juxtaposed over old, familiar feeling tendencies. They’re very brazen about their knowledge of this, too, in the line, “Any you’d be my tiny dancer, baby…”
(Seriously, at this point, I have two songs left and I’m getting tired. This was a bold choice for a first-ever track-by-track reaction to. Now I know. Check how many tracks before making these bold decisions.)
With this song we’re back on a different world with our spirit guide, Lana. I can already tell this will be a song that will grow on me. Another time, when I’ve selected it specifically. The lyrics in this song might be some of my favorite. “Life rocked me like Motley / Bad beginning to my new year.” The singing stylistic difference past the half-way mark is refreshing.
I can’t talk about this anymore.
16. Get Free
I love you, Lana, and I will revisit these but I need a break. Damn. I feel like a bunch of these songs were already in the cut when she started making more music with a slightly altered perspective and so everything has ended up on this album.