Lana Del Rey: Eternal outsider with universal appeal
On the surprisingly sober ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’, Lana Del Rey gloriously rises above the myth she created herself, without losing sight of the melancholy and melodies.
The fact that a voice with a special grain, regardless of taste or genre, manifests itself at a certain moment, is picked up and then grows into a universal fact remains a curious phenomenon.
The Belgian composer Wim Mertens spoke to us about this at the time of the release of ‘Born To Die’, Lana Del Rey’s breakthrough album from 2012. ‘Video Games’ had then become a world hit out of nowhere. He says there is such a vote for every generation. In his feelings, the singer matched perfectly with Thom Yorke (Radiohead) and Matt Berninger (The National). More recently, he added Billie Eilish to that. All artists who found and held their niche somewhere between mainstream and underground.
White Dress by Lana Del Rey.
‘Chemtrails over the Country Club’ is the fifth album by the American songwriter after ‘Born To Die’ and a new artistic highlight. The thirst for melancholy and dark romanticism has not disappeared, but sounds less melodramatic and musically more pure. On the one hand, this is because the boundary between the private person and the character has become more blurred.
Raised in the New York alt-rock scene, Elizabeth – Lizzy – Grant and her alter ego Lana Del Rey, once styled as a nostalgic flirtation with faded Hollywood glamor, have grown closer together. That evolution was already there on the predecessor ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ and now continues.
Drinks, drugs and bikers have made way for coffee, laundry and lazy summer days by the pool.
On the other hand, producer Jack Antonoff deliberately did not spruce up her melodic songs too much. The man who has worked closely with pop phenomena like Taylor Swift, Lorde and P! Nk in the past described the music he received from her as ‘a letter from another universe’, to which she replied that it felt exactly the same to her. ‘Is this new folk? Or, my god, are we going on a country tour? ‘ Whatever the case, that more acoustical palette that can mainly be heard on the second half of the record, with a Joni Mitchell cover at the end, does not get in the way of her confessional, always somewhat drawn-out songs.
Away from the outpourings about her wild years, she gives the fans a glimpse into how her world looks a bit more conventional at the age of 35. Booze, drugs and bikers have made way for coffee, laundry, and lazy summer days poolside, as the title song shows. In it, the ‘chemtrails’ refer to conspiracy theories about the condensation trails that planes leave high in the sky and that they can see from the water. In addition to a hypnotic melody, she also immediately plants an intriguing image in your brain, demonstrating once again how cinematic her songs are, with banal-looking details as essential set pieces for her poetic storylines. Even in a more minimalist context, Lana Del Rey remains the queen of atmosphere creation. While retaining both the breadth and the sharpness of formulation.
Even in a minimalist setting, Lana Del Rey remains the queen of atmosphere creation.
‘Normality settles down over me / I’m not bored or unhappy / I’m still so strange and wild ‘, she sings languidly and almost numb, and we believe her. “I never felt that what people were saying about me matched how I really felt,” she said after the release of “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” about the caricature that people often made of her, based on her sad songs and some very explicit interviews. “But I’m not one thing,” she responded, emphasizing that being able to express your sadness is just as good for your mental health. She really doesn’t care what others think about this, because she is at peace with her position as an underdog.
She invariably calls the opener ‘White Dress’ one of the key tracks of the new album. Looking back on how she dreamed of being famous as a 19-year-old waitress, she picks up the highest notes in a whisper and only accompanied by a dreamy piano. “No matter how weird the song sounds, in the end you know exactly what it’s about,” she said with satisfaction Interview Magazine. It is her reaction to a world in which sometimes only the nice melodies remain and we do not get to know what the songs are about and whether that is whatsoever important. Once she had to defend herself against the rumor that she was a puppet. ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ emphasizes how self-made and headstrong she is, even though it has to debunk her own myth.
‘I’ve been covering Joni (Mitchell) and dancing with Joan (Baez) / Stevie (Nicks) ‘s calling on the phone / Cory (Courtney Love) almost burned down my home /… / But sometimes this ranch feels like my only friend ‘, she sounds on’ Dance Till We Die ‘once more like the eternal outsider with universal appeal.
Chemtrails Over The Country Club is out on Interscope-Polydor / Universal.