Written Before Listen
Lana Del Rey has returned for a second time this year with a brand new album and sound. I will say right now that Chemtrails really didnt grow on me well. I thought the melancholic sound and subtle instrumentation gets boring after a while. On the other hand, I did hear that this album is a different beast but made in the same factory. This is my second Lana album listen through and I hope to be satisfied even more this time around.
On Chemtrails, Lana teamed up with the 2021 heavyweight himself, Jack Antonoff. A lot of his production style did compliment Lana too, but this time around, he is away and the production fits Lana pretty well. With songs like “Arcadia”, “Wildflower Wildfire” contain backing synths to the melancholic piano. The production on “Dealer” sounds very soulful and 90s, but also has the blueprint to make a very passionate psych pop song. While we’re talking about production, we should mention the fire interlude that comes in. The Ennio Morricone sample and hard hitting trap drums are just something completely different from the rest of the album. Overall, I think the production of the instruments, vocals and everything else always comes off strong.
What I can see from Lana is that her strongest suit is her lyrics. She makes it known too. Her instrumentals are too bare bones and simple for the lyrics to be generic. Lana’s whole persona is a book full of memoirs with a type writer right next to it. This time around, Lana does talk about how much life has affected her during quarantine as well as self-confidence. Do I think her songwriting is good on this album? Yeah, but It’s not super strong as well, and that brings this album down for me. Look, her vocal performances aren’t super impressive, her chord progressions are solid, her instrumental palettes aren’t super great and she’s low-key devoid of versatility. Lana albums should be directed towards the lyrics and I will say, that the lyrics aren’t super versatile this time around.
Lana Del Rey always carries a lot of influence from people of the past. She’s also really singular at the same time too, but there is one big influence on this entire record, Fiona Apple. Fiona Apple is probably a go-to comparison for Lana but the melancholic piano narratives that albums like “The Idler Wheel” carries itself on a backpack with this album. The outro of the song “Wildflower Wildfire” is like a new version of a “When The Pawn” era Fiona song. Another singer/songwriter I see some influence from is Sarah McLaughlin, especially on the song “Beautiful”. On the tracks “Nectar Of The Gods” and “Sweet Carolina”, Lana Del Rey brings her inner Joni Mitchell and on “Violet For Roses” and “Cherry Blossom”, Lana brings her inner John Lennon. Its easy to say that Lana isn’t shy of showing influences on her sleeve, especially on this album.
Now, the best part, The instrumentation. I think Lana does bring some basic instrumentation to the table, but what her producers do with it is what makes the music shine. A lot of the pianos on this album are rich, clean and Lucious. The guitars are very melancholic and silky and when there are any drums, they are usually brushed. There are also songs like “The Trio-Interlude” and “Dealer” where Lana (like occasional spots on Chemtrails) goes electronic. To be honest here, there is not a single mixing mistake here.
Alongside the underperformed lyricism and sometimes derivative appraoch, there is really no variety. Nothing bluesy or twangy, Nothing overtly folky and with the exception of the two electronic tracks, nothing different. To be honest with you, 61 minutes of Lana Del Rey ballads sounds good on paper and it sounds good in real life, but it doesn’t sound great either.
I honestly liked this more than Chemtrails, but Chemitrals didnt really grow on me well. This is the superior record, but once again nothing really shocked me. I do think the vocal and instrumental aspect has improved, but not really the songwriting.