Music

album review | Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey

Norman Fucking Rockwell! is finally here and I am so freaking happy. My thirteen-year-old self is crying right now, believe me. I mentioned that I was looking forward to LDR’s new album in this post. Lana Del Rey has been one of my favourite artists for the longest time. I just love how unique she is. She’s got a very vintage feel to her with a twist of modernity here and there and I just find it so addictive. I’m a huge fan of artists like Frank Sinatra, Stevie Nicks and The Eagles and although they all have different sounds they’re some of the artists I feel like LDR takes a lot of inspiration from. This album is just over an hour of pure musical heaven.

Please note that I’ve stylized the names of the songs how they look in the album, I don’t have terrible grammar I just wanted to write them how they’re shown in the tracklist.

Norman fucking Rockwell

The first song is the title track which is always quite nice because it sets the vibe for the whole album. The piano backing behind Lana’s vocals is so beautiful. I feel like this is a really laid-back track to start with and it was a brilliant choice. It sounds so effortless which is so amazing, it’s hard to find a singer who sounds so good without seeming like they try so hard. Lana’s lyrics almost always have a story to them and this song is no exception.

Mariners Apartment Complex

Mariners Apartment Complex was the first single released for NFR! in September of 2018 and from this release, I knew that I was going to love her new album. It’s classic Lana Del Rey. And that’s one of the things I adore about Lana, she knows who she is as an artist and she doesn’t feel the need to change to fit what’s popular. The dreamy guitar in the background is really what pulls this together. The psychedelic rock kinda vibes just makes me feel a way that modern pop just can’t.

Venice Bitch

This is so so beautiful. Very lengthy at nine minutes long but absolutely beautiful. Her vocals in this are just out of this world. They tried so many cool things on this track and they mesh together so well. Her producers really know what they’re doing. I know she worked with Jack Antonoff on this project and he’s a musical magician. It starts off with an Americana kind of vibe then goes into a classic rock section and then some little funky sounds are added in, it should sound like a mess but it doesn’t. It fits together in a way that only Lana could pull off.

Fuck it I love you

I first listened to this when it came out last weekend and I absolutely loved it. I think I put it on repeat like ten times. Lana’s ability to switch from vibe to vibe is unprecedented. She speeds up for the pre-chorus and then when the chorus hits she’s back to that lullaby kinda vibe in the chorus. This is definitely one of my favourite songs from the album because I love the storyline that comes with the song. The surf beat is reminiscent of LDR because lots of her songs and music videos reference the beach.

Doin’ Time

Doin’ Time is another one of my favourite songs on the album, it’s a cover of the original by Sublime. I think that she does a really good job at making the song her own without taking away from the charm of the original. It still has that wavy, psychedelic rock vibe to it. But with her feminine vocals, it sounds that lil’ bit wavier. Lana has done covers before such as Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No 2, Tony Bennett’s Blue Velvet and Mary Costa’s Once Upon A Dream and she covers all of them with such grace and respect for the artist.

Love song

Lana knows how to give me goosebumps with her lyrics, she truly does. This is probably the most beautiful song on the whole album. I love how soft it is but how passionate it is. One of my favourite things with Lana is how she can make dark things sounds beautiful when she sings “You know that I’d just die to make you proud”. She is just so effortlessly elegant. Put this song on and think about the person you love most in the world and try not to cry, I dare you.

Cinnamon Girl

I think Cinnamon Girl emulates all of the ‘sad girl shit’ vibes that Lana said NFR! would have and I lurve it. Cinnamon Girl reminds me of the older Lana when I first started listening to her. As I mentioned before, I love that she’s had a similar sound throughout her career. It’s her signature. I love that she knows exactly who she is as an artist and she fully embraces it rather than doing what everyone else is doing.

How to disappear

Now, this isn’t my favourite song on the album but I still like it. It tells such a beautiful story and that’s one of the things I love about her. Lana doesn’t just write lyrics for the sake of sounding good, she writes them with a story in mind or with a certain vibe to them. She and her writing team get together and they put an immaculate piece of writing together. Her songs sound more like poems being sung. I love the melancholy sound to ‘How to disappear’, it’s a feeling that LDR is able to emulate so well.

California

There’s a really solid theme in the album surrounding Lana becoming a stronger person, we see this in the lyrics of ‘Venice Bitch’ as well as this song. ‘California’ has that vintage feel to it which I adore. It’s so on brand and that why people love her, you know what to expect and you’re not disappointed when new songs drop because she delivers. I loved the cheeky little throwback to liquor being on the top-shelf as she sings in ‘Carmen’.

The Next Best American Record

It had to come at some point so here it is…my least favourite song on the album. I can’t explain to you why it’s my least favourite, I just didn’t love it as much as I have everything else thus far. It’s a beautiful song. And our old friend Bill has another mention. Most LDR fans know that a man called Bill is mentioned in lots of her songs including Trash Magic and Driving in Cars with Boys.

The greatest

I love this song so much. It has such an interesting mix of instruments in this song. There’s acoustic guitars, electric guitars, light drums, piano – everything and it sounds so perfect all together. It has a very all-American feel to it, Lana refers to lots of different aspects of American culture – rock’n’roll, The Beach Boys, Kanye West etc. At the end of the song, there’s a soft instrumental with the piano and guitar and it really wraps up the song perfectly.

Bartender

This is another song on the album that took me back to being a teenager and discovering LDR for the first time and just falling in love with everything about her. The story in these lyrics is one of my favourites in the whole album. Lana is driving down the highways looking for the bartender that she fell in love with. She’s sad that she has to hide her private life from the tabloids and that it’s hard to have a relationship with her being such a public figure. Much like the rest of NFR!, it’s a bittersweet song.

Happiness is a butterfly

This is 100% another one of my favourite songs on NFR! It’s the second-to-last song on the tracklist so it was the one I’d never heard before because the last song was released in January. It’s signature LDR, beautiful but dark. Die-hard Lana fans will notice the reference to one of her most amazing unreleased songs ‘Serial Killer’. This is another one of Lana’s songs about being hurt while in a relationship but just wanting to be happy. It’s said that this song was named after a quote from Nathaniel Hawthorn that Lana had tweeted last year. I love when song titles have real meaning, it adds a little bit of depth to the song for me.

hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it

Okay, I bloomin’ love this song. Again, it’s one of my favourites on the album. It’s got that signature LDR feel to it that I’ve loved since I first heard her singing. The lyrics in this song (and the whole album) are all very introspective. She looks inward on looks of these songs and questions herself. She sings about having monsters under her bed that she still can’t fight off. It’s refreshing to see an artist using their music to look inward and use it kind of like a journal. Although some of Lana’s songs like The Other Woman and National Anthem focus on a fictitious character that she’s singing as, I feel like NFR! is her writing mostly about her own experiences and I’m here for it.

Lana mentioned on an Instagram live and this album would be some “sad girl shit” and she wasn’t wrong. Once again, the queen of melancholy has blown me away. I’ve listened to this album four times on repeat while writing this and I still have a few repeats in me. So, excuse me while I find some tulle and go and dance in my garden barefoot.

♡  Have you listened to Norman Fucking Rockwell!? If so, what do you think?

“In my opinion, the main thing is to be a good person and to have an interesting life” – Lana Del Rey.

Until next time,

 

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