Norman Fucking Rockwell

Let’s Talk Lana

Once again, Lana Del Rey decided to grace the world with that angelic voice of hers via her 5th studio album – and obviously the internet is going crazy. The seductive songstress went in with a mean set of guitars and brings us back down to her fantasy dreamland with minor piano chords and haunting vocals, sealing Norman Fucking Rockwell’s fate to undoubtedly be the album of the fall.

Produced by Jack Antonoff, Del Rey began working on the album early 2018. In a recent interview, she said that she was approached by Antonoff (of FUN fame), at a party and asked about whether or not she was working on something. She then met him in the studio, unsure of where their session would go. He introduced her to a few chords that he came up with – which later turned into California – and needless to say, Del Rey was sold on having Antonoff work on her album.

Setting the tone of the LP, is the title track Norman Fucking Rockwell. Del Rey is no stranger to having a powerful set of strings introduce her breathy and sweet voice. She is, however, foreign to having her strings followed by a piano melody that is more cheerful than the doom and gloom of her usual records. She begins by crooning Goddamn, man-child/ You fucked me so good that I almost said “I love you” / You’re fun and you’re wild. An insult and compliment all within in the first five seconds of the song is the 2019 LDR attitude we should all be sporting like fashion. With Del Rey’s writing following a routine pattern true to her character, it comes with no surprise that she leaves Easter eggs for fans. ‘You’re fun and you’re wild’ brings to attention the lyrics previously used in Cruel World from her 2014 album, Ultraviolence. She sings Because you’re young, you’re wild, you’re free / You’re dancing circles around me / You’re fucking crazy. Could she still be singing about the very same lover that crossed her, 5 years later?

Female musician, Lana Del Rey, holds on to a male's waist while on a boat with an American flag
Courtesy of Interscope Records

Turning down the lights on the album is Love Song. A whimsical and dreamy listen, this by far is one of Del Rey’s most vulnerable songs ever officially released. Harmonically the intro sounds similar to the acclaimed Summertime Sadness off of her debut album, Born to Die. Lyrically, this sounds less like Del Rey and more so like her debut sound under Lizzy Grant. Yes kids, before Lana was Lana, she went by her surname. Her catalogue of songs under the latter were sad, but also very pop-y and sounded as if they could be featured in an Indie films montage. Grant and her guitar were magical together, and definitely caught the eye of major labels when she was playing local venues in New York. Had that stayed her reality, she would have most definitely played this while on stage. Painting a picture of a modern day rendezvous, Del Rey makes us want to have a summer romance when she sings Oh, be my once in a lifetime/ Lying on your chest in my party dress / I’m a fucking mess, but I / Oh, thanks for the high life / Baby, it’s the best, passed the test and yes / Now I’m here with you, and I. This song is sure to break hearts and have everyone pull out their lighter – we mean phone, for 3:49.

An LDR compilation would not be complete without the chanteuse belting out some high notes for you to take long drives to Cinnamon Girl fits that very activity. As the rest of the album poses to be a feminist declaration of being broken hearted but still remaining strong, Cinnamon Girl juxtaposes that sentiment and yearns for a male counterpart to her epic heroine. Hold me, love me, touch me, help me / Be the first who ever did is a sad gush that she serenades listeners with. A methodical tactic of her bringing listeners down the rabbit hole with her, before she brings them back out. Given the sweet tone of the song, we can already guess that this will be a fav for cover artists alike.

Just when you thought that you got rid of the rock and roll biker chic last seen in Ultraviolence, she comes knocking down your door with California. Written with sought after Mini Mansions and The Last Shadow Puppets bassist Zach Dawes, Del Rey pens a ‘belt it in your hairbrush’ type anthem that poses as a coming to terms love letter about feeling lost. If you come back to America, just hit me up / ‘Cause this is crazy love / I’ll catch you on the flipside / If you come back to California. Again, Del Rey repeats the chordal texture that she has going on throughout the album in this song. She outright switches from mediums of sound to an echoing pattern on piano and guitar. Rhythmically, this piece is sound and gears you up for the epic chorus of You should just hit me up / We’ll do whatever you want, travel wherever, how far / We’ll hit up all the old places / We’ll have a party, we’ll dance till dawn / I’ll pick up all of your folks and all of your Rolling Stones / Your favorite liquor off the top-shelf / I’ll throw a party, all night long. An overseas fling would not warrant a birdsong like this; this wound runs deep, and we can feel it.

The most unique and unexpected track on the long play is Bartender. From the layered vocals and embellishment, Bartender is a combination of every LDR era wrapped into one heartfelt ballad. Initially, you aren’t sure where she is steering the song. Are we going to hear a soft guitar with her harmonizing, or will we get an immediate rush from her speaking? She chants: With my bartender, hold me all night / Bartender, our love’s alive / Baby remember, I’m not drinking wine / But that cherry coke you serve is fine / And our love’s sweet enough on the vine / Bartender, bartender. A true and hopeless romantic, Del Rey relies on her ability to story tell before sing to carry her melody and message through to the chorus. With a hint of Joni Mitchell here, and Laurel Canyon there, this is confirmed to be in our top 10 Lana jams.

Through her various era’s and countless romantic storylines, listeners have not heard the self-proclaimed Coney Island Queen this vulnerable and in her element doing what she does best; make us really feel. Paying homage to the various characters Del Rey has created over the years, she has seamlessly meshed them all into this album. Regardless as to what era was your favourite, you are sure to find something you like within this emotive project.

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