Lana Del Rey “Lust For Life” Review

(Photo Credit: MalaysiaUpdates)

Lana Del Rey reconciles her troubles with her desires on a beautiful record.

Each of Lana Del Rey’s first three albums has had it’s own proper identity – her cold and upfront debut, the grittier sophomore album, and her more emotionally and sonically reserved third release. Her fourth album “Lust For Life” reconciles some of the best ideas of her previous works. “Lust For Life” works best because it does not try to fit any mold, something her first three releases felt more than comfortable doing. On this album, arguably for the first time, Lana Del Rey gets to be Lana Del Rey. She gets to express the emotions she wants to and convey the image she wants to.

That last statement is, of course, bullshit. Del Rey has always had a hand in her own music, and has made the choices on how each of her albums would go. But this album feels freeing, in a way of an artist breaking a contract to finally do what they want to do. “Lust For Life” takes elements of each of her first three albums and produces the logical conclusion of a woman aching for a life in the past while making due in the present.

The most freeing element of this album lies in the features. Across her first three albums, Del Rey had zero featured artists. This album has six total – The Weeknd, Stevie Nicks, Sean Ono Lennon, Playboi Carti and A$ap Rocky (twice). It’s a random collection of people, and it feels hand-picked. On “Tomorrow Never Came,” her duet with Sean Ono Lennon, she falls into meta territory by proudly singing about the fact that she’s collaborating with him. A$ap Rocky’s tracks come back-to-back at the album’s midpoint. Although the latter, “Groupie Love,” doesn’t blow a whole lot of smoke, the former “Summer Bummer” is set to be a Del Rey classic. The track (which also features Playboi Carti) gives way to each performer, in a looseness that is not present on any prior Del Rey song, and feels relaxed even by traditional rap/sung standards.

The Weeknd’s presence is felt strongly on this album. The two have a fruitful friendship – her song “Lust For Life” is their third collaboration together, after “Stargirl Interlude” and “Prisoner” on his last two albums, respectively. His last album, “Starboy,” was named so after David Bowie, shortly after his passing (even though he *should* be vying for the MJ throne, tell me you disagree). Lana Del Rey’s album, “Lust For Life,” borrows an album title from Iggy Pop on the album’s 40th anniversary. Bowie and Pop were more than friends, so this connection feels more than intentional. And indeed, Del Rey makes references to the classic rock era. The track “Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind” is simply chronicling the music festival experience, from someone who easily could’ve been at Woodstock. (Also, on a more obvious level, note the Stevie Nicks feature).

But great guests aside, this album shines through Del Rey herself. This is the first album where she seems to take on multiple identities, where she presents herself as a complicated person. Her previous albums have all felt like factions of a person – album-length versions of a singular thought a person might have throughout the day. “Lust For Life” recognizes its humanity, the contradictions of life and the difficulties of love. For once, Del Rey seems determined to act on ambitions and dreams, as well as recognize the impossibilities of her fantasies. Her previous songs often felt like daydreams, but on this album, they either become reality, or get respectfully pushed aside. Del Rey sounds equally confident and remorseful, powering through all with her high, breezy vocals. Her voice barely sounds different across “13 Beaches” and “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing,” yet the slight changes in her tone account for the song’s two different emotions. The total product may not be her best album, but it’s her most diverse features a handful of tracks that are already among her best. If you were at all nervous about how Del Rey would keep her image interesting, then fear not – it’s as exciting as ever.

Grade: B

-By Andrew McNally

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