By GRACE MONTES
Lana Del Rey is hailed as one of the most prominent female artists today in the music industry, and more specifically the indie-alternative genre. Her music is so different from other artists that Pitchfork describes her as “one of our most complicated stars, a constantly unresolved puzzle.” Her talent does not go unnoticed, as she has recorded music for movies such as “The Great Gatsby” and Disney’s “Maleficent.” Her individuality lures people in and she captivates them with her music.
Lana Del Rey’s fifth album, “Norman F—ing Rockwell!” was released on Aug. 30, 2019, and has been long awaited by her fans and the rest of the music industry. She previously released several singles within the past year that are featured on this album such as “Venice B-tch” and “Mariners Apartment Complex.” Despite the use of little to no promotion for this album, it has been well received by both critics and the public. Rolling Stone described her latest album as a “tour of sordid American dreams, going deep cover in all our nation’s most twisted fantasies of glamour and danger.”
“Norman F—ing Rockwell!” embodies the same feel as Del Rey’s previous albums. It brings listeners back to the 70s with the retro and sultry style that Del Rey is well known for and has promoted throughout her music.
The title song depicts Del Ray singing to a lover, telling him “You’re just a man, all through and through.” She reveals the deception he has put her through, and delivers honesty about his faults. It carries dreamy background vocals and a piano accompaniment.
The track “California” speaks to someone she once had a connection with who has gone away, and offers romance if he returns to America. The song is accompanied by a solemn piano, and Del Ray’s soft-pitched crooning. The song romanticizes the idea of a relationship in California, with the lyrics, “If you come back to California, you should just hit me up/ We’ll do whatever you want, travel wherever how far.”
Throughout her album, there are signs of heartbreak and mention of broken people. “Cinnamon Girl” tells the story of being broken before by heartbreak and expresses feelings about the relationship being broken as well. Del Ray croons, “There are things I want to say to you, but I’ll just let you live / But if you hold me without hurting me / You’ll be the first who ever did.” The song mentions the use of drugs and the experience of abuse within an unhealthy relationship. These themes are prevalent throughout many of Del Ray’s songs.
The album is dark, as are the rest of her previous albums, but “Norman F—ing Rockwell!” holds little to no signs of romance. The album is full of pain, heartbreak and stories of imperfection.
NME gave the album a perfect rating of 10/10 stars, and said that the album “contains multitudes.” The review addresses Del Rey’s continuation of the same sound produced in her past albums, but also that “it would be easy for it to feel like Lana Del Rey-by-numbers but she avoids that by making something filled with beauty that subtly moves her sound on, ushering her into territory marked timeless.” The album is not something that would be out of the ordinary for her, but it contains surprises within the lyrics that keep listeners on their toes. She stays true to the same “sad girl” persona that she has been running with, but she continues to build on this with new emotions and stories within her music.
While reception of her album has been mostly positive, Del Rey responded to NPR music critic Ann Powers via Twitter, posting “Here’s a little side note on your piece – I don’t even relate to one observation you made about the music. There’s nothing uncooked about me. To write about me is nothing like it is to be with me. Never had a persona. Never needed one. Never will.” This reaction came after Powers’ review of the album, which unravels Del Rey’s music as romanticizing concepts that do not exist, such as describing Los Angeles beaches to be more beautiful than they are and taking on elements of other cultures to create her “persona.”
Powers wrote, “Whether her music makes cultural connections that are obvious or obscure, they always feel deeply personal, individuated, like mementos.” The article goes on to describe Del Rey’s growth in her music, stating that “she has learned to be a more specific writer and a more adventurous vocalist and to make room in her echo-saturated arrangements for her words to resonate.” Whether or not Del Rey agrees fully with the critique, praise can still be found within it.
Lana Del Rey’s music continues to evolve with every new release, whilst continuing to stay true to her own personal style. She continues to set an example for other artists in the indie-alternative genre and distinguishes herself as an artist by creating inimitable music. While Del Rey continues to establish her style as a musician, the world is eager to see where she will go next.