Released: July 21, 2017 (Interscope)
To me, the things that spring into my mind when I hear about a Lana Del Rey album is pretty simple; gloominess, melancholy, and classic 60s twists and kinks. Yup, that’s pretty essential to the Lana Del Rey package. And for her fifth studio album, the glamorously titled Lust of Life, is nothing short of these elements. She’s back with another set of dreamy and mysterious tunes, and judging from the singles—the pop-influenced number “Love” and the harmonizing duet with The Weeknd, “Lust of Love”—you would not expect anything different from the classical pop diva.
But this isn’t your typical Lana album; this is Lana re-invented with a progressive pop sound. For example, the jazz-influenced jam “Cherry” and subliminal love song “White Mustang” may fit the essential Lana mould, but the blend of trap beats and subtle electronic undertones brings a completely new essence to the record. Yes y’all, I’m pretty shook too! But to honour this, Lana didn’t just experiment on just one simple track; she smeared it on others too. “Groupie Love” shares a sonic similarity to Ms. Lorde, whereas “Coachella” and “In My Feelings” could easily pass as a more mature pop number that you could easily hear on the radio (or wherever the hell you listen to music these days haha…).
But of course, Ms. Thang never allows her originality to die down, especially with tracks like “13 Beaches”, “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” and “When The World Was at War We Kept Dancing” (a.k.a. the song with a long-ass title…) that shimmers a throwback at her Paradise days. On the rare occasian, she lets her West Coast California realness come loose with the beach surf rock anthems “Tomorrow Never Came” and “Get Free”, two tracks that don’t really give much impression or excitement, just like the airy trip-hop ballad “Heroin” which, yeah, is pretty personal and tactful, but still nothing particular interesting.
But speaking about interesting, my absolute favourite track here is the only track that completely separates itself from the remaining material on Lust for Life; the hip-hop ridden trap banger “Summer Bummer”, which is a collaboration with frequent collaborator A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti. Funnily enough, this is one of the only tracks here that blends an irresistible dark atmospheric tone, quintessential to her earlier work, with a contemporary twist that makes it seem very inciting and addictive to listen to. And tracks like these showcases the brilliance of their artistry, from the harrowing lyrical content, to their multi-functional vocal performances.
Overall, I think Lust for Life stands out of the rest for all the right reasons. One, it stays true to the Lana Del Rey formula without going to over-the-top and playing safe. Two, her ability to convey her capabilities as a songwriter/producer with such strength, calmness and vulnerability is pretty noteworthy. And three… that voice. That voice is hypnotic as F, so it’s nice to hear her singing over a bunch of tracks that tangle in with different music genres and sounds. A pretty great record indeed!
Track list (Bold means best tracks):
- Lust for Life (feat. The Weeknd)
- 13 Beaches
- White Mustang
- Summer Bummer (feat. A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti) *Liam’s favourite*
- Groupie Love (feat. A$AP Rocky)
- In My Feelings
- Coachella — Woodstock in My Mind
- God Bless America — and All the Women In It
- When the World Was at War, We Kept Dancing
- Beautiful People Beautiful Problems (feat. Stevie Nicks)
- Tomorrow Never Came (feat. Sean Ono Lennon)
- Get Free