Like Lana Del Rey said at the end of her last album, 2017's Lust for Life, she is "out of the black, into the blue." While Lust was one of Lana's most lighthearted efforts, her newest record, Norman Fucking Rockwell!, sees her singing the blues again thanks to the wild times that we're currently living in. Our sadcore queen is back and armed with extra nostalgia to make Norman a fine work of heart.
Norman Fucking Rockwell! refers to the famous American artist Norman Rockwell who painted everyday scenes of life in the most beautiful light. Since her breakthrough with 2012's Born to Die, Del Rey has been like a painter with words as well, conjuring up vivid scenes and scenarios with her every breath. Lana's lyricism is at its strongest and most poignant on Norman where she tackles life at the moment with 14 somber, bold, and breathtaking tracks.
Del Rey wrote and produced most of the album with Jack Antonoff, the guy recently behind Taylor Swift's Lover album. "Mariners Apartment Complex," "Venice Bitch," and "Hope is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have - But I Have It" dropped as preview releases. The official singles that followed were a cover of Sublime's "Doin' Time," "Fuck It I Love You," and "The Greatest."
Lana, the artiste, really jumps out on Norman Fucking Rockwell! Here's five more songs beyond the singles that are strokes of genius on the album.
1. "Happiness is a Butterfly"
Del Rey teased "Happiness is a Butterfly" on Instagram last year. As cheerful as the title sounds, Del Rey refers to how, like the beloved insect, happiness is fleeting, especially in light of her "it's complicated" romance. Piano backs her as she asks, "If he's a serial killer, then what's the worst that can happen to a girl who's already hurt?" Her voices floats like butterfly and her words sting like a bee on this hauntingly heartbreaking ballad.
2. "Love Song"
On the flip side, Del Rey makes an evening of love last an eternity on "Love Song." Soft strings and piano back her recounting a rendezvous to remember with the most tender lyrics. While the lovers' future is uncertain, their present together is pure poetry in Del Rey hands. "In your car, I'm a star and I'm burning through you," she sings. Lana sounds like an angel on this heavenly ode to the beauty of intimacy two people can share.
3. "How to Disappear"
Del Rey, the New York City native, relives her days in living in the big city and falling for guys with issues on "How to Disappear." Trap-lite beats and psychedelic production soundtrack the story of John and Joe, two of Lana's lovers who would lose themselves in drinking and fighting respectively. "You just crack another beer and pretend that you're still here," she sings. The tale ends in sunny California where Lana's found a more secure life. "Disappear" is a dreamy stroll down Del Rey's memory lane.
4. "Cinnamon Girl"
A tumultuous relationship rocks Del Rey's world once again on "Cinnamon Girl." It's another psychedelic offering with the singer-songwriter refusing to give up on a lover who is wrapped up in drugs. "You try to push me out, but I just find my way back in," she sings before calling out the colors of the various pills. As the song progresses, a bit of the trip-hop sound from her Born to Die album re-emerges. "Cinnamon" is a sweet yet glum moment with a codependent Del Rey at the center of the storm.
Del Rey's fascination with the West Coast continues on the sorrowful "California." Her Americana references are striking as she tries to win back an ex who up and left with the best of what the Golden State has to offer (and that ace reference to Santa Ana winds - my hometown!). Despite her best efforts to turn the tides, Del Rey's dude is off fighting his own demons. "I've heard the war was over if you really choose, the one in and around you," she sings.
Photo composite courtesy of Interscope Records