Home Read Lana Del Rey | Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Lana Del Rey | Norman Fucking Rockwell!

The pop cipher changes up her sound for her SoCal-themed sixth studio set.

461

WHO IS SHE? Good question: Although she’s been a major-label pop star and celebrity for nearly a decade, dark-hearted balladeer Lana Del Rey remains something of a cipher — which proves she’s either deeper or shallower than she’s letting on, depending on how you feel about her.

WHAT IS THIS? Her sixth studio release and first collaboration with singer-songwriter-turned-superstar producer Jack Antonoff, who is having a helluva month: He also co-wrote and co-produced Taylor Swift’s Lover and released the debut disc from his latest band Red Hearse.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? To her credit, something of a departure and/or evolution that downplays the trip-hoppy noir and hazy pop-rock of previous albums in favour of smouldering piano-based ballads set in Southern California, swirled with psychedelic textures and delivered with a little more confidence than previous outings. What hasn’t changed: Her bleak expletive-laced lyrics, understated vocal delivery and penchant for borrowing (or, depending again on your view, stealing) lyrics and song titles from other artists.

WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Blotting Out the Sunshine.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? By yourself, late at night, while pining for an unrequited love and wondering why you’re such a screwup — though if you’re too depressed, this might just tip you over the edge.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Lonely, poignant, yearning, sultry, stylish, shadowy, enigmatic, introspective, confessional, self-deprecating.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Her slow-burn cover of Sublime’s SoCal ska-punk gem Doin’ Time is surprising — and surprisingly satisfying — but numbers like The Next Best American Record, Venice Bitch, Mariners Apartment Complex and California all boast strong melodies and some of her most pointed and memorable choruses.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘If Lana Del Rey can’t be happy, is there really any hope for the rest of us?’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Put it this way: This is the first album she’s made that I actually plan to revisit.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE A STREET, WHAT STREET WOULD IT BE? The seediest stretches of Hollywood Boulevard — after midnight.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? If you’re a fan, it’s a no-brainer. If you haven’t been one up to now, start with the stream — but I predict she’ll win you over.