Since the beginning of her career back in 2012, Lana Del Rey has stayed true to her style. Each song is a nostalgic, sad-girl package of quotable lyrics wrapped up in a bow of 1960s Americana and delivered straight to every teenager with a broken heart.
With each new album she delves deeper into that aesthetic, pulling handfuls of material from the past to apply to her modern self. She’s become a character, a creation that fits into neither past nor present. It’s fantastic, and her newest album is proof.
The strikingly titled “Norman F**king Rockwell!” is a hazy, 14-song collection of the kinds of emotional turmoil only someone like Del Rey routinely experiences.
The album flows around in a kind of truthful spiral as it shows the complexities of love and life. One minute, the artist is mourning the loss of “The Greatest” love she’s ever had. Next, she’s partying it up — and subtly flexing — on “Doin’ Time.”
As with any life, Del Rey’s is complex. This album does a great job of communicating that instead of putting in any particular effort to avoid contradictions between tracks and moods. It‘s a whirlwind, but isn’t that what life's supposed to be?
Because of that, it feels like the most truthful collection the artist has produced yet. Every experience is then dipped in some Old Hollywood glamour, and voila! An album, ready to hit the shelves and provide a great cry-inducing soundtrack.
Even without paying much attention to the lyrical content, it‘s easy to tell this album gets deep. Every instrumental decision was made to portray the feelings behind the lyrics instead of giving Del Rey’s voice a backdrop.
Seeing as the album was produced by Jack Antonoff, the frontman of Bleachers and the mastermind behind Lorde’s “Melodrama,” the translation of feeling to instrument should come as no surprise. It‘s nice that no neon-dipped synth pop was slipped in, a trademark style of the producer.
The whole album was instead wholly and completely Lana, and it would have been a shame if it wasn’t. Her aesthetic is what she’s known for and what her fans and listeners have come to expect.
For the most part, “Norman F**king Rockwell” isn’t anything shocking, but it’s good that it isn’t. Instead of trying to reinvent herself every few years, Del Rey knows what she likes and sticks with it. Her style works for her, and, as she keeps getting deeper and deeper into it, it just gets better.