Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!

  • Released: 30th August 2019
  • Length: 67:38
  • Label: Polydor
  • Metacritic Score: 87/100
  • Peak UK Chart Position: #1
  • For Fans Of: Cat Power, Natalie Merchant, Mazzy Star

What The Critics Said:

She is the next best American songwriter, period … Where her elegant wordplay once made her the Patron Saint of Internet Feelings, she now sounds like a millennial troubadour—singing tales of beloved bartenders and broken men, of fast cars and all of the senses, of freedom and transformation and the wreckage of being alive. The stakes have never been higher.

Pitchfork

What the Artist Said:

 It’s like a mood album. There’s not really any big bangers on it, it’s just day-in-the-life mood music, which is some of my favorite stuff to drive to and listen to.

Lana Del Rey is an American singer-songwriter who has become one of the most respected names in the music world over the last decade. Since the release of her seminal debut single ‘Video Games’ in 2011, Del Rey has maintained invincible levels of critical and commercial acclaim, amassing five albums which have clocked in at #3 or above on the Billboard charts. And, with two albums scheduled for release in 2020, Del Rey is far from finishing her dominance.

Norman Fucking Rockwell! (NFR!) sees a subtle departure from the sound of predecessor Lust For Life. Where her 2017 effort made small steps towards 80s synth, modern pop and trap, with rapper A$AP Rocky featuring on two tracks, NFR! is truly entrenched in nostalgic American balladry. More stripped back, much of the instrumentation is gently pulled along by quiet piano chords or understated guitar riffs, while Del Rey’s vocals softly absorb and embrace the soundscapes.

The album’s relentless assault of romantic melancholia lasts a salient 67 minutes, perusing every avenue of loneliness, lust and yearning for both affection and a younger, freer time. Del Rey’s voice can be somewhat overly-sweet at times, though it can be argued that this adds to the innocence and tenderness of the record. After all, this album is in no way a statement of intent or urgency. It exists in a youthful haze and dreaminess, floating without direction or care.

Tracks such as ‘How to Disappear’, with its lethargic stringed melody and groove, or ‘The Greatest’ and its gorgeous overdubbed backing vocals and sleepy piano outro, epitomise this mood. These songs exist only to encapsulate the listener in its irresistible warmth and comfort.

However, nothing on the album defeats the majestic passage of the nine minute-long ‘Venice Bitch’. What first appears as something slow and gentle delicately develops into something with a touch more pace in the chorus, before entering otherworldly realms of assured dexterity and grace. Del Rey immerses herself into the ever growing wall of understated noise, serenading seemingly aimless yet meticulously controlled culmination of sounds. She leaves a final message, announcing ‘If you weren’t mine, I’d be / Jealous of your love’, a sombre message of destitute departure.

NFR! is a triumph. Its most emphatic moments lie in its most beautiful and romantically deranged, and though its eye-catching length may draw accusations of self-absorbedness, a complete listen will easily defeat any criticism of its composition. Del Rey is in unstoppable form, and has reaffirmed her voice amongst the crowd as a sublime storyteller of fascination, passion and wonder.

Track Listing:

  1. Norman Fucking Rockwell* (4:08)
  2. Mariners Apartment Complex (4:06)
  3. Venice Bitch** (9:38)
  4. Fuck It, I Love You (3:38)
  5. Doin’ Time (3:17)
  6. Love Song* (3:49)
  7. Cinnamon Girl (5:00)
  8. How To Disappear* (3:48)
  9. California (5:05)
  10. The Next Best American Record (5:49)
  11. The Greatest* (5:00)
  12. Bartender (4:23)
  13. Happiness Is a Butterfly (4:32)
  14. Hope Is a Dangerous Thing For a Woman Like Me To Have – but I Have It (5:24)

Thanks to Nay for the recommendation.

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