Lana Del Rey has solidified her role as contemporary music’s “gangster Nancy Sinatra.” Del Rey had her breakout in 2012 with her successful album Born To Die. The album not only gained Del Rey massive media attention and a controversial “Saturday Night Live” performance, but it also polarized critics with its distinct noir and melodramatic production and soft, airy vocals. She released Ultraviolence in 2014, collaborating with The Black Keys’ guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach and producing an even darker, gloomier and blues-infused sound.
Honeymoon—released in late September—is lighter than Ultraviolence and more akin to Born To Die. The record is a diversely produced, alternative pop album with jazz and baroque influences. The album revolves around themes of being at peace, pleasing a lover and finding escape.
Lamenting violins and solemn melodies back the titular, soulful introductory song “Honeymoon”—it’s ultimately a somber ballad. Del Rey’s delicate and subdued vocals shine throughout the track, setting a dreamy tone.
The second track and second single off of the album—“Music To Watch Boys To”—is a lot more seductive, mysterious and cinematic. This track is definitely a standout from the album. It’s much more upbeat and catchy than the first song while also being more sonically playful.
The fourth track “God Knows I Tried” is one of the most vulnerable tracks of the album. It is a heartfelt plea to a higher power above, resembling a hymn acknowledging human plight, error and tribulation. Del Rey successfully conveys the emotion of the track with her breathy, high notes.
The first single off of Honeymoon is one of the catchiest songs of the album. Backed by a church organ-like keyboard melody that could be found in a 1980s Las Vegas movie, “High By The Beach” offers hard-hitting beats and incorporates Hollywood-esque rebellion. In the music video, she shoots at a helicopter with a machine gun—the helicopter representing the paparazzi chasing after her every movement.
One of the most sensual songs is “Freak.” “Freak” is hauntingly catchy, incorporating vivid West Coast imagery. Del Rey is known for her sultriness, encapsulated perfectly in the song with the lyrics, “Come to California/Be a freak like me, too/Screw your anonymity/Loving me is all you need to feel/Like I do/We could slow dance to rock music/Kiss while we do it.”
Other standouts of the album include the catchy “Art Deco” and the sorrowful but devoted “Religion.” Del Rey’s strength lies in reverberating the same praise and satisfaction toward her lover in various, imaginative ways such as using metaphors and subtle imagery. “Religion” in particular uses such language—Del Rey says, “When I’m down on my knees, you’re how I pray.”
The album concludes with a cover of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” It contains organ melodies, encompassing the general sound of the album. Del Rey’s vocals are propelling and represent the humanistic perspective of the song.
All in all, Honeymoon is luxuriant and full of prose—a classic depiction of Del Rey. Her persona on the album gleams authenticity. It’s interesting to see the route she took for this album, but of course, this leaves much discussion around a future release. Honeymoon is a quality album that doesn’t have to rely on hot singles or heavy promotion to succeed.