From interesting collaborations to an album leak, Lust For Life has generated anticipation and hype all summer. Aside from the fact that I have been an unashamed Lana fan for years, what really got me excited for this album was an interview with the controversial pop sensation published by Pitchfork last week, just days before the L4L release date. In the interview, Lana speaks vaguely about a change in the famously brooding, nihilistic outlook that saturates songs like "Ultraviolence" and "High By The Beach". While she doesn't say that Lust For Life comes from a new persona full of sunshine-and-roses, she does say that "something is happening".
The ‘something' that departs from any of Lana's previous three albums reveals itself so slowly over the course of Lust For Life that you might not notice it happening, but by the time the last track fades away, you're asking yourself, "Wait, that was the same artist who sang about money, glory, and watching boys?"
The first few tracks on the album are classic Lana Del Rey... or are they? She is the tragically beautiful Hollywood star on "13 Beaches", saying, "I'm camera ready/ Almost all the time", but she counters this with a blatant readiness to move on as her breathy voice expands dreamily into a chorus of "I've been dying for something real". She delivers a characteristic, seductive ballad of devotion and personal ruin with "Cherry" and mourns an ill-fated attraction to fame in "White Mustang", but then hits a fresh note of self-empowerment on "In My Feelings".
As much as I love it, in the past, Lana Del Rey's work has been the last thing I would ever put on a pump up playlist, but the lyrics to "In My Feelings" make me feel like a badass. You can hear the swagger in Lana's voice as she sings "I'm smoking while I'm running/ This town, and you'd better believe it/ I'm laughing while I'm taking no prisoners/ I'm taking down names" and her rhetorical "Who's tougher than this bitch/ Who's freer than me?" is an artist's triumphant victory over a turbulent past and a difficult climb to the top.
Lana explores uncharacteristically political territory with several of the tracks on Lust For Life with mixed success. Her wish that America's women "stand proud and strong like Lady Liberty shining all night long" in "God Bless America - And All The Beautiful Women In It" feels somewhat cliched. More effective as a comment on American society is "Coachella- Woodstock In My Mind". In this song, Lana references U.S. tensions with North Korea and wonders about the effect America's present leadership will have on young people. "Coachella" draws an interesting parallel between the turmoil of the 60's and our current political upheaval, contrasting the rippling, unpredictable effects of both time periods against the setting of a music festival where -- for a few days at least -- time stops and love is the prevailing mood.
The end of the album shows a Lana Del Rey who seems to have found some sort of internal, work-in-progress peace. On her melancholic yet comforting duet with Stevie Nicks, Lana implicitly acknowledges the hopeless mental state and references to abusive relationships of her past albums admitting, "It's more than just a video game/ But we're just beautiful people with beautiful problems". By describing her hardships and herself as "beautiful", she seems to have found, if not a degree of purpose, then at least a point of acceptance.
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