Tuesday, 22 September 2015
14 months after the release of the more guitar driven (yet tragically sublime) 'Ultraviolence', the elevated femme fetale of pop returns with the more cinematic and sophisticated 'Honeymoon'. Gone are the gritty riffs of psychedelic rock and indie music influences; this time Lana returns to a more familiar platform that is more akin to her debut 'Born To Die'. The songs swoop lavishly up and down in cinematic style, full of orchestral highs and gloomy vocal lows layered with film-noir/poetic references.
Thematically, the album revisits familiar territory with Del Rey embodying the troubled jazz singer wrapped in the fabric of film noir, falling for the bad boy that she can't have. The haunting 'Terrence Loves You' stirs a silky vocal into a near wail whilst blended with idyllic tones of jazz, whilst 'Salvatore' could be an extract from an Italian soap opera, swooping from bell whistles to sultry violin strings in the space of a few seconds. Never one to shy away from the pressures of fame, this is explored in the heart breaking ballad 'God Knows I Tried', whilst referring to her spectators and critiques in the title track's opening track - "We both know that it's not fashionable to love me". Her authenticity has always been at the core of her music and her persona (forgetting Lizzy Grant hides behind the baby doll eyes of Lana Del Rey), but 'Honeymoon' takes that authenticity and elevates it high to such an extreme without ever becoming laughable or caricturesque.
The record thrives on her obsession the American dream, film noir and the image of the strong woman driven by sexuality. These figures tell a story designed to bring us into the world Del Rey inhabits, one of classic timelessness hand in hand with crooning melodies that conjure up a paradise of idyllic proportions - particularly in the extremely catchy lead single 'High By The Beach' - one that could be taken from the pages of Jacqueline Susann's 'Valley of the Dolls'.
'Honeymoon' reaffirms the inner sadness that one now commonly associates with Lana Del Rey and her musings of heartbreak and despair, longing to revel in her isolation - explicitly referenced where she asks her lover "to be a freak like me" - in a world where she feels lost and misunderstood; ironically the final song on the record is a cover of Nina Simone's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood'. The highlight of 'Honeymoon' comes in the astonishing '24', a bold slow burner of a song that has James Bond written all over it, soaring to such extraordinary highs and climaxing in true orchestral style. If the producers of 'Spectre' were to reconsider, they would find themselves with an Oscar-worthy record. Everything then comes to a jarring halt in the drum-lead 'Swan Song', where Rey repeatedly states that she "won't sing again" and that she'll "leave the world for the ones who change everything". If this is to be a meaningful and symbolic farewell to the construct of Lana Del Rey, or even her career, then she bows out with the style, poise and grace her idols would no doubt approve of. Rey encourages her listener - or lover - to cherish every second. Because let's face it, the Honeymoon period never lasts long but every second is still bittersweet.