Del Rey's still got sum­mer blues, but lusts for life

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Lana Del Rey emerged on the mu­sic scene as a haunt­ing fig­ure. She was "Born to Die," in the words of her break­through al­bum, and dark­ness per­me­ated her sound and world­view. Five years af­ter "Born to Die," the pro­lific singer on Fri­day put out her fourth ma­jor-la­bel al­bum, whose ti­tle-"Lust for Life"-would ap­pear to show the in­verse mind­set. Yet for the 32-year-old singer, sor­row and joy are in­tri­cately in­ter­con­nected. On "Lust for Life," she en­joys the world's plea­sures all the while feel­ing cursed by their ephemer­al­ity.

Del Rey car­ries the al­bum through her quickly rec­og­niz­able voice, breathy and co­quet­tish yet saun­ter­ing with echoes of Nancy Si­na­tra. "Lust for Life" builds on Del Rey's sig­na­ture cin­e­matic style, melan­cholic with an aura of clas­sic Hol­ly­wood, yet the al­bum also shows touches of hip-hop swag­ger-most ap­par­ent in seamless ap­pear­ances by rap­per A$AP Rocky. The ti­tle track-no re­la­tion to punk icon Iggy Pop's clas­sic "Lust for Life"-brings in emerg­ing R&B su­per­star The Weeknd, who in his mel­liflu­ous falsetto at times reaches a higher range than Del Rey.

Even if the song cel­e­brates life, it opens with a dark al­lu­sion to a Hol­ly­wood sui­cide be­fore find­ing joy in the here and now. "Take off / Take off all your clothes," Del Rey in­tones, as The Weeknd sings, "They say only the good die young / That just ain't right." Del Rey teams up with other ma­jor names on the al­bum. Ste­vie Nicks, her sandy voice smoothly com­ple­ment­ing Del Rey's, joins for "Beau­ti­ful Peo­ple, Beau­ti­ful Prob­lems," while Sean Len­non brings a gen­tle beauty to "To­mor­row Never Came."

Ac­tivism through melan­choly

If "Lust for Life" largely stays true to the sound honed by Del Rey, the New York-born singer reaches into new ter­ri­tory as she speaks out, in her own way, on politics. Del Rey has hardly be­come a protest singer. But she be­comes a uniquely ef­fec­tive voice in turn­ing her for­lorn sound into a re­flec­tion on the Amer­ica of Donald Trump. On "God Bless Amer­ica - And All Beau­ti­ful Women In It," Del Rey's gloomi­ness gives way to up­lift as she finds sol­i­dar­ity in the masses of women who took to the streets af­ter the shock of Trump's elec­tion.

"May you stand proud and strong / Like Lady Lib­erty, shin­ing all night long," Del Rey sings. The of­ten dour Del Rey is again star­tling op­ti­mistic as she reaches into his­tory on "When the World Was at War We Kept Danc­ing." "Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of Amer­ica? No, it's only the be­gin­ning. If we hold on to hope, we will have a happy end­ing," she sings. In a re­cent in­ter­view with Elle UK, Del Rey said it was im­pos­si­ble in the cur­rent mo­ment to es­cape politics: "It would be weird to be mak­ing a record dur­ing the past 18 months and not com­ment." Yet her lyri­cism more of­ten takes up lone­li­ness than com­mu­nity. The singer who scored an early hit with "Sum­mer­time Sad­ness" re­turns to sim­i­lar ter­ri­tory on "Sum­mer Bum­mer," while "13 Beaches" re­lates her strug­gles to find a quiet place in the sand away from pa­parazzi. Del Rey closes the al­bum with "Get Free," a re­flec­tion on the clash be­tween gloom and her out­reach to the world. "Some­times it feels like I've got a war in my mind," she sings. "I want to get off, but I keep rid­ing the ride."


This file photo shows Lana Del Rey on ar­rival for the ninth an­nual Grammy Week Event pre­sented by The Record­ing Acad­emy Pro­duc­ers & Engi­neers Wing in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia.

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