Lana Del Rey released her sixth album last Friday, Aug. 30 titled “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” All six albums have been released over a nine-year period, starting with her first album “Lana Del Rey” in 2010, with another planned release for next year. Despite having such a wide library, Del Rey has always kept her distinctive style and this latest release is no exception.
With fourteen songs, the album perfectly captures the type of heightened acoustic style layered with Del Rey’s airy voice that made her famous. What this album lacks, however, is a standout song.
Every album should have a high point, some song or lyrical peak that truly delights listeners, which this album never reaches. Each song has the same tempo, same stripped instrumentation relying heavily on strings and piano and the same subject. With so much of the same, it could be said that Del Rey is losing her touch.
But fans needn’t fear. The lyrics of the songs keep listeners intrigued as they wait to hear more about Del Rey’s melancholic romantic musings. The title track, “Norman Fucking Rockwell,” illustrates this point perfectly.
The piece is almost entirely accompanied by piano with occasional moments where a small string ensemble peeks through. The lyrics truly paint the picture: images of a “man-child” who colors the singer “blue” saturate the piece. Nostalgic and ethereal, “Norman Fucking Rockwell” is the picture of a long-gone youthful romance that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
“Venice Bitch” is the third song of the album. While the gentle guitar accompaniment and washed out percussion are reminiscent of the titular track, the lyrics once again set it apart. The occasional interjections of “bang, bang, kiss, kiss” and “fear fun, fear love” contribute to the story becoming far more tempestuous and combative. Coming in at nine minutes and 41 seconds, the song luxuriates in such an explosive relationship that you can’t help but watch it burn.
Del Rey’s performance is not just limited to moody songs about old relationships. She also sings moody songs about breakups and the trials of single life. “Bartender” is one such song. Del Rey gets creative with her voice here, playing with the syllables of ‘bartender’ to reinforce the idea that the bartender is tender and cares for her. At times she uses onomatopoeia to laugh at the ridiculous situation: holding on to a past relationship by using the bartender as a replacement.
The creative use of the lyrics and slightly faster tempo in “Bartender” make it perhaps the most interesting song on an album that otherwise blends together in a melancholic blur. This album is a return to the classic Del Rey sound: a cohesive block of music best listened to while laying on your bed contemplating ex-lovers, ex-friends and that time you dropped your ice cream and it melted all over your leg. As interesting as the lyrics of this album may be, the orchestration and composition disappoint, earning it only 3.5 stars.