Lana Del Rey has always felt like a different type of pop star from a completely different era, something that has always put her at odds with all of her peers and contemparies. This after all is a woman who rode into the spotlight on a wave of melancholia and declared herself the queen of Hollywood Sadcore.In a world full of bubblegum pop  she was a much needed rain cloud.

Norman Fucking Rockwell is her sixth full length album and honestly, it might be her most accomplished. This is a blunt album that wears it’s bleeding heart on it’s sleeve. It’s not entirely devoid of hope though, and there are light moments that shine throughout the album.

The album starts off rather auspiciously with the title track, a beautiful piano led ballad that invites the listener back in. It’s a very stripped down, soulful way to start the album that sets the mood for what follows.

Venice Bitchthrows out the albums major curve ball early on. Clocking in at 9 & a half minutes, it’s the longest moment on the album and the centrepiece which the rest of the album revolves. Gliding in on a gorgeous sun kissed rhythm that ebbs & flows with a silky smooth chorus it’s impossible not to fall in love with it. This is also the only mainstream song this year that you will hear the theremin on, adding an extra layer to the multifaceted layers already at play.

Fuck it, I Love Youis one of the album’s singles that you no doubt have heard pre release. The sheer notion of it is pure Lana, showcasing all of her signature traits, wonderfully woven melodies met with lyrics full of nonchalant melodrama that have her at one point declaring “If I wasn’t so fucked up, I think I’d fuck you all the time” but hey that’s love right? it’s frank and honest anti-ballad that has become her calling card. The Next Best American Recordand The Greatestboth anchor the middle of the album highlighting Lana at her storytelling best, the former detailing the pressure or possibly the naive exuberance of wanting to create something great, but the temptation to party and be with someone proves too much. The Greatest has perhaps the best chorus on the entire album, it’s another breezy track full of sunshine and ocean air begging you to come be in the moment with it.

Happiness is a butterflyis the most downbeat song on the album, featuring perhaps it’s darkest lyric “He’s a serial killer, but what’s the worst that can happen to a girl that is already hurt…I’m already hurt” which leaves the listener with a lot to unpack especially as it’s the penultimate track. The placement of this on the album’s tracklisting right before the slightly more optimistic sounding Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it is one of the album’s great mysteries.

Norman Fucking Rockwell is an album of layers and tones. While there is an overall sound to the album, it perfectly captures a mood and a vibe. The production job is minimal yet everything sounds suitably large yet like it’s from the specific time period it wants you to feel you’re in. For perspective Jack Antanoff is one of the main songwriter’s on here and he also worked on Lover by Taylor Swift, yet that album sounds like a Richard Curtis film set to music, it’s vibrant, exciting and full of joy, it’s a true celebration of love. In comparison this album feels like looking at love, youth and the art of growing up through the filter of old black & white photos, it’s distant, faded and very much a thing of the past, the emotion the memory envokes is much stronger than the memory itself.

Lana Del Rey has come of age as an artist, and this album may be very well be the album that defines her career going forward. It’s a mature and timely reminder of not only who she is, but what made her so exciting in the first place.

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