Rating – 8.5 out of 10
May Jailer only knew a few chords on acoustic guitar and she created an album. Then, she changed her name to Lizzy Grant (inspired by her real name, Elizabeth Grant), and released a sophomore album, only to have it be taken out of stores because her record label couldn’t fund the sale of it.
Then, she renamed herself Lana del Rey and became known. In 2012, she released an album titled Born to Die that was sweet and beautiful. It’s music for frolicking. It doesn’t have a whole lot of depth, but it’s touching somehow.
Then, in June of 2014, del Rey released the album Ultraviolence. It’s more complex than Born to Die. Ultraviolence is dark, moody, mysterious. It’s music for an overcast day.
I think the album covers sort of serve as metaphors for this contrast – The Born to Die cover features a redheaded Lana in a collared shirt, while the Ultraviolence cover is black and white and her hair is darker.
After noticing this, I wondered what her next album, Honeymoon, would be like. The much anticipated album was released last Friday.
So, what is Honeymoon?
The tone of Honeymoon reminds me of a literal honeymoon. This album’s 14 tracks are a lazy, mellow vacation that you want to share with something or someone you love. It’s slow paced without being dreary; captivating without being perplexing.
Lana invites us into the album begins with the title track. It’s extravagant and sleepy (We could cruuuuuuuuise to the bluuuuuuuuuues) and a little eerie. It sets the tone well. “Music to Watch Boys To” is iconic in a similar way that Born to Die‘s “This is What Makes us Girls” is. Then, we hear “Terrence Loves You” – a love song (“But I lost myself when I lost you”) complemented by piano notes and instrumental pauses. There’s no extravagant background melody, allowing her voice to be highlighted without distractions. Next up is “God Knows I Tried”, a somber, raw look into Lana’s inner conscience. I connected to her through this song. Like, we’re homies now. “High by the Beach” is Lana’s musical “eff you” (You could be a bad motherf*cker / but that don’t make you a man.) Some man out there made her mad, but it’s okay, because she’s going to get high by the beach. AND THEN MY FAVORITE SONG OFF THE ALBUM – FREAK. I am ‘freak’ing out over this one. It’s chilling and hypnotic and catchy all at the same time. “Freak” is an adventure. “Art Deco” is what you want to listen to while driving home at night. This track is transcendent but also an auditory equivalent of a floral art piece.
Now, it’s time for an interlude by the name of Burnt Norton. It’s not so much singing as it is reciting a poem by T.S. Eliot. My favorite lines are: “Footfalls echo in the memory / Down the passage which we did not take.” To me, it means that if you are presented with an opportunity and you don’t take it, you’ll definitely ask yourself “what if?” I think it’s really cool that the poem says it was “in the memory”, because it’s true that you’ll remember saying no. And you probably won’t stop remembering.
We come back with “Religion”, a song that isn’t really about religion because we already got “God Knows I Tried.” It’s about a man who is, in fact, her religion. Then, its time for a trip to Spain with “Salvatore.” The song’s opening music sounds just like walking down a busy street with vendors in some foreign but beautiful country. Which is cool if you’re like me and can’t afford to go to some foreign but beautiful country. Up next is “The Blackest Day”, a gloomy track in which Lana yearns for her man to return to her, but you listen to it anyways because her voice is as beautiful as field of thornless roses. Luckily, it’s a lengthy track (6:15), because that gives you enough time to change into a ballroom gown to listen to “24.” But like, for real though. The song is extravagant enough to make you consider taking dance lessons. Then, we hear “Swan Song”, a track with dynamite instrumentals. Lana bids us goodbye with her cover of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, a song with an interesting title as del Rey is often, well, misunderstood. People hear Born to Die and want to stereotype her as some flower crown wearing artist with a heart of gold. Or, they hear lyrics like “God’s dead / I said, baby, that’s alright with me” and “I want money, power, and glory” and notice her tattoo that says trust no one and assume she’s all aesthetic and no substance. Lana del Rey is in a compartment all of her own. She’s complex. She’s dynamic. She’s an angel – my angel. She’s my mom, maybe. She’s talented. She’s Lana.
Honeymoon is a work of art punctuated with high notes and extravagant lyricism. Although only a week old, it is already an album that I feel is a classic. At some point, I must buy a hard copy of this masterpiece to treasure forever. Maybe one day, I’ll listen to my Honeymoon CD on the way home from work at that time of day when it’s not completely dark, but almost dark, and the pretty colors of the sunset are fading. And I’ll probably be able to get through all 14 tracks because Los Angeles traffic is unfathomable. Because, you know, I’m going to live in L.A.