Review by Roy Trakin.
Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon (Interscope)
That poor little rich girl is back, with that all-knowing glint in her otherwise blank eyes. “We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me,” she states after the wide-screen, orchestral flourish on the title track of her third major label album (and fourth overall), in which her narcoleptic approach continues to lure listeners like sirens to the jagged rocks of their own misplaced desire.
The dreamy, hallucinatory “Music to Watch Boys By” parenthetically promises to “do what you want,” but of course, “it’s all a game to me anyway,” offering release, but pulling it back like a rug, leaving us on our collective butts. Better to look and not touch.
“Terrence Loves You” continues her obsession with image (“Hollywood legends will never grow old/And all of what’s hidden/Well, it will never grow cold”), philosophy (“But you are who you are”) and David Bowie, even going to far as to quote “Ground control to Major Tom” from “Space Oddity,” the ultimate ode to cosmic isolation.
There’s a David Lynch-ian confessional quality to “God Knows I Tried,” offering the perfect world-weary, “be careful what you wish for” shrug: “I’ve got nothing left to live for/Ever since I found my fame.”
The single, “High by the Beach” might be the ultimate expression of El Lay ennui, a combination meditation on Greta Garbo-esque wanting to be alone and a violent revenge fantasy against those who only want to invade your space. The slow, come-hither burn of “Freak” smolders with all the heat Del Rey keeps simmering on low burn: ‘You’re cold as ice, baby,” she may as well be singing about herself. “But when you’re nice, baby/You’re so amazing in every way.”
The breathy “Art Deco” summarizes the “What, me worry?” LDR aesthetic to a T: “You want more (why?)” When she insists, “We were born to be free,” the words say one thing, but her hollow entreaties suggest we’re every bit the prisoner as her duet with The Weeknd expresses. “Religion” conflates the physical and the spiritual as only Lana can (“When I’m down on my knees, you’re how I pray”), with yet another pop cult allusion, this time to Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” while “Salvatore” offers a string-laden glimpse into a continental Italian romance, with risible shout-outs to “cacciatore,” “limousines,” “ciao amore” and “soft ice cream.” What, no gelato?
“The Blackest Day” is a break-up song that references Billie Holiday, “looking for love in all the wrong places” and “head games,” with its masochistic juxtaposition of “black” and “blues.”
There are only “24” hours in Del Rey’s day to put up with a lying paramour, as she once more resorts to tortured cliché to describe her trepidation in a song she reportedly came up with for the latest James Bond flick, only to lose out to Sam Smith: “If you lie down with dogs, then you’ll get fleas/Be careful of the company you keep.”
By the time she gets to the ethereal “Swan Song,” she’s ready to leave it all behind: “I will never sing again/And you won’t work another day,” echoing Chet Baker’s doomed cry, “We could just get lost.”
The coda is her apt version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” a song originally covered by Nina Simone and then The Animals, a perfect kiss-off to an anguished cry of longing and frustration.
With her deadpan, faux romanticism, and sheer force of will, Lana Del Rey stands the pop world on its ear. Like another lovelorn crooner who specialized in saloon songs, she does it her way.