Her dark paradise
Lana Del Rey Lust For Life Universal
IT’S the end of the world, as Lana Del Rey knows it. Though the lead single of the singer’s fourth major-label release would’ve had you thinking otherwise.
When Love was released earlier in the year, the luxurious torch song saw the former Lizzy Grant channelling uncharacteristic optimism. It’s an atypical message from Del Rey (“It’s enough to be young and in love”), who over the course of her past three albums, has been singing about love as a subject of two extremes – a hopeless addiction and a perverse masochism tool.
“It’s going to be a happier album,” fans thought while waiting for the record’s release.
Well, that depends on how you define “happy”. To an extent, Del Rey has never sounded as buoyant as she does on Lust For Life – even when she’s singing about the end of the world.
“Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America?” the 32-year-old asks in When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing, over ghostly melodies, before vowing to stay strong in the face of adversity.
Whether or not the track is a jab at Donald Trump is up for contention. But Del Rey did lead a call-to-battle via Twitter back in February to oust the US President from office through witchcraft. In fact, the second half of Lust
For Life is heavy on worldly issues.
Brooding midtempo ballad Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind has Del Rey worrying about a music festival crowd’s children – and their children’s children – as nuclear tension rises in North Korea.
Meanwhile, God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It has euphoric-tinged gender equality written all over its dreamy arrangements.
The 16-track collection also marks the first time Del Rey opens up her studio to guests, each highlighting the album’s hallmark genres: hip-hop (The Weeknd on the title track/ A$AP Rocky on Summer Bummer and
Groupie Love) and folk (Stevie Nicks on Beautiful People Beautiful Problems/ Sean Ono Lennon on Tomorrow Never Came).
But the most gleaming numbers are when Del Rey stands on her own (the simple ballad Change and rousing album closer Get
Free), accompanied by ethereal and haunting music. Elsewhere, slow-burning 13 Beaches and sensual Cherry trawl that cinematic soundscape that made past releases like Young And Beautiful and
Honeymoon instant classics. At almost 75-minute long, there’s a grand ambition to Lust
For Life that attests to Del Rey’s genius. But judging from that contented smile on the album cover, she probably already knows that.
Lee Hyori Black Kiwi Media Group
TOWARDS the end of 2015, firstgeneration K-pop superstar Lee Hyori decided to take a break from the glitz and glamour of the South Korean entertainment scene.
Almost two years later and about four years after her last fulllength effort Monochrome, the former Fin.K.L. member is taking another stab at fame with her sixth studio album.
The record has more of an alternative flair, with songs that meander along folksy rock and experimental hip hop. Album opener Seoul shows that the time away has been spent on creative growth. The laidback first track is a good introduction to a reinvented popstar. Here, the songstress sings about the contrast between cosmopolitan and country life.
That mature songcraft (Hyori wrote and composed the bulk of songs) is a far cry from the sexy singer who once boasted that she could seduce a guy in 10 minutes. But the Cheongwon native proves that she can still do sultry, evident on the title track and White Snake.
The song Black has a hint of bluesy country notes with the plucking of guitars and Western movie-esque melodies.
That bold experimentation doesn’t apply to the remaining songs on the 12-track collection, though. The tropical Love Me starts off with a promising reggae-inspired tune but becomes a lazy EDM mess at the chorus. That electronic aspiration is also sorely misinterpreted on Mute that features a hook that sounds like something rejected by The Chainsmokers.
The ballads here – with the exception of the tender Diamond ,a duet with Lee Juck – are too bland for their own good. But one gets a sense that Hyori is perfectly comfortable being low-key at this point of her career. That confidence is something that only a seasoned entertainer who’s perfectly comfortable in her own skin can muster.
LANY LANY Polydor
OH, to be young and lovestruck is such a wonderful thing – or at least, that’s what LANY wants you to believe on this self-titled debut.
The Californian trio crafts the kind of wistful love songs that the H&M-wearing crowd would save on their personalised Spotify playlists in a heartbeat.
On this 16-track record, the three-piece act – comprising lead vocalist Paul Klein, drummer Jake Goss and keyboardist Les Priest – serves minimalistic pop gems with shimmering melodies and sparkling synths.
Lead single ILYSB taps into that hopelessly-devoted-to-you psyche with a text messaging lexicon (ILYSB = I Love You So Bad). That pairing of heart-on-sleeves lyrics and polished synths is a hit-ormiss kind of effort, though.
On more ebullient numbers such as opener Dumb Stuff, Flowers On The Floor and Good Girls, those emotional declarations are often drowned amid an excess of electronic melodies.
But LANY manages to strike a balance between vulnerable lyricism and gorgeous synths on the slower numbers. Hericane wallows in deliciously sentimental words that float over lush electronic arrangement.
Elsewhere, effervescent tracks like Super Far, Overtime and 13 continue to underline the trio’s pursuit of beautiful electronic-brushed odes that sweep through the stages of love lost and love found as experienced by millennials.