Lana Del Rey is many things to many people, not least herself. She is at once the doomed starlet, a Trump-hexing love witch, a ‘gangster Nancy Sinatra’ and, most importantly, a hugely successful global recording artist with four major label albums under her slinky belt. Her moody, vintage-indebted sound is now so distinct that it’s practically its own sub-genre, defined by its drowsy doo-wop stylings, laced with trap production and film-score- worthy theatrics.
‘Lust For Life’ deals with themes that’ll be familiar to Lana devotees; faded Hollywood glamour, skewed Americana and terrible love. But this time around, Lana is even more grandiose than usual, with lush, sweeping orchestration draped elegantly over each of the album’s 16 tracks. An epic proposition, it’s her longest album yet and starts as it means to go on with the shimmering, cinematic ‘Love’. A post-modernist playground, the iconic pop cultural references run wild throughout. ‘Cherry’ knowingly quotes Patsy Cline’s 1961 country standard ‘I Fall To Pieces’; ‘Coachella – Woodstock in My Mind’ namedrops Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’; the Sean Ono Lennon-featuring ‘Tomorrow Never Came’ is an all-out love song to The Beatles – and Elton John; and album closer ‘Get Free’ lifts more than some might think seemly from Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, as well as dropping some Neil Young lyrics along the way.
The guests are almost as high-end as the references, with Stevie Nicks showing up on ‘Beautiful People Beautiful Problems’ to offer a husky glance into Lana’s future, and old-school collaborator A$AP Rocky lending his bars to two tracks, ‘Summer Bummer’ and ‘Groupie Love’.
However, with such defined sonic parameters – and so many damn tracks – there are moments where Lana verges upon becoming a parody of herself, notably on title track ‘Lust For Life’, as she deadpan purrs “take off, take off, take off all your clothes” before a fabulous falsetto turn from The Weeknd. Sure, it’s a bit silly, but also utterly fabulous too – and that’s why we love Lana so.