“I don’t need a man to complete me.”
“I’m better off alone anyway.”
“Today is a new day.”
“I’m tired of feeling like I’m [expletive] crazy.”
Clichés are a dangerous trap. Except when you’re Lana Del Rey.
The sultry alternative sensation has just released her fourth album, Honeymoon. No artist captures the essence of heartbreak with as much originality as the 30-year-old singer-songwriter. Unafraid to reveal the darkest corners of her mind, Lana works with producers Rick Nowels and Kieron Menzies to create the most emotional album of her career. Sugarcoating is out of the question. Sex, longing, isolation, jealousy, and a touch of nostalgia fuse to form the hauntingly beautiful masterpiece that is Honeymoon. One thing is clear from the jazz-and-blues-inspired playlist: Lana Del Rey is a prisoner of her own mind, and that’s the way she likes it.
Pain is nothing new to Lana. In 2012’s, Born to Die: The Paradise Edition, Lana reveals she cannot cope with failed relationships. In songs like “Dark Paradise” and “Summertime Sadness,” Lana wallows in self-pity. The artist turns to self-destruction in songs like “Ride,” sleeping with older men for the thrill of freedom. If anything, Lana uses Honeymoon to reflect on her wild mistakes. Lana is not on a Honeymoon with a man—but rather, with herself. Coming to terms with the disappointment in her life, Lana is alone once more.
A dramatic, slow-paced violin sets the entrancing mood for the cover track. But don’t be fooled by the title: “Honeymoon” is anything but a joyous retreat. No, Lana is not living happily-ever-after. Instead she finds herself lost in a dream, hopelessly describing “Mr. Born to lose.” With each chorus, the violins crescendo as Lana desperately repeats, “Say you want me too.” The repetition implies her lover is gone forever. The surreal imagery is evocative of old Hollywood glamour: roses between her thighs, a little bullet car on Pico Boulevard, and dark blue everything. Lana is nostalgic for a bygone era, romanticizing the past to fuel her fantasies and transform her album into a timeless work of art.
Lana feels no need to rush. The slow tempo of the album dramatizes her lyrics and legitimizes her pain. A variety of instruments diversify the music and prevent the songs from sounding too similar. The seductive guitar in the third track, “Terrence Loves You,” gives way to a mesmerizing piano and a smooth saxophone. Longing for the past, Lana alludes to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” to portray her desire for her elusive lover. She asks in an eerie echo, “Ground control to Major Tom/Can you hear me all night long?” Electronic beats bring energy to “High by the Beach” and “Art Deco,” but the pace never overwhelms the lyrics. Gone is the fast-living wild child of Born to Die. Lana has matured, taking a moment to think about her past. Slowing the tempo allows Lana’s darkest thoughts to come to fruition.
So what is Lana Del Rey looking for? Men drive her to the brink of insanity, but she dives deeper into herself with each heartbreak. Pain is her coping mechanism. Through the ache emerges a self-aware Lana, channeling her sorrow into brilliant music. In the album’s longest track, “The Blackest Day,” Lana admits, “It’s not one of those phases I’m going through/Or just a song, I’m on my own.” She has found her peace.
But without a man to hurt her, will the artist deliver tragic beauty in the future?
Stephen Vocaturo is an undergraduate student in COM, contributing his classwork to “Portfolio,” The COMmunicator’s exclusive space for student work.