Lana Del Rey
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
It only took Lana Del Rey a few short years to go through the cycle of hype, backlash, and redemption that normally takes artists most of their careers to span. And, since no one should know better that momentum is a fleeting thing in this business, it’s perhaps not surprising that she hustled out her new album Honeymoon for release barely a year after Ultraviolence earned her accolades as a comeback kid.
The good news is that the new album doesn’t betray any signs of haste. Del Rey is almost a genre unto herself, releasing modern torch songs with staggering tempos in which she always seems to be embroiled in some sort of tumultuous relationship that’s too intense to sustain and yet too alluring to be abandoned.
She sprinkles her lyrics with hip-hop lingo and references to popular songs; if you could somehow come to the musical center of the bizarre triangle with points at “Space Oddity,” “Lay Lady Lay,” and “Rapper’s Delight,” all of which are given shout-outs here, you’d probably find Del Rey standing there in anguish. Yet there’s no doubting that she has a distinct point of view, while her vocals, modulating between practically comatose deadpan and desperate falsetto, are a unique delivery system.
Most of the songs (often co-written with Rick Nowels) keep accompaniment to a minimum so those vocals can haunt unencumbered. Highlights include “Religion,” which walks the fine line between devotion to and obsession with one of her bad-boy suitors, and “Art Deco,” full of ’80s-style synth beds. “24,” with brass flourishes rising up out of the gloom, suggest that Del Rey would make a good choice for a future Bond theme.
Honeymoon isn’t quite as fine as Ultraviolence, but that’s less an indictment of the new album than high praise of the older one, which feels like an immediate classic. In any case, Del Rey’s rollercoaster of a career seems to have steadied on an impressively high level.