Pop star, vintage debutante, Hollywood witch—no one quite knows how to label Lana Del Rey. One of the most enigmatic and alluring artists of the times, Del Rey returns to the scene with her sixth album "Norman F*****g Rockwell!" With 14 tracks spread over a 68 minute run-time, Del Rey delivers her most powerful performance yet.
The album is mainly produced by Del Rey herself, along with Jack Antonoff. "Norman F*****g Rockwell!" features many classic nuances any long-standing fan would recognize: References to California, Cherry Coke, America and being cool. What this album presents most predominantly, though, is perhaps Lana Del Rey’s most ubiquitous topic: love and relationships. This album is a new, complicated take on some of her most classic themes.
The album starts with it’s namesake “Norman f*****g Rockwell!” The song opens with a gentle ensemble of strings and flute, later moving on to piano, then mixing the two for the climax. Her vocals are directly showcased and her lyrics pack a punch as she sings, “You act like a kid though you stand six foot two.”
“Mariners Apartment Complex” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it” both show a kind of inner strength that only comes from struggle. In the latter, the singer opens up to her audience in an echoey, emotional cry over simple piano chords. “A modern day woman with a weak constitution,” she sings, “‘Cause I’ve got monsters still under my bed that I could never fight off.”
The already cinematic-styled album is complemented beautifully by Del Rey’s music videos. Going viral immediately, the video for her cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” has reached millions of views and shows visuals of California through a nostalgic vintage filter.
Lana Del Rey has a knack for genre-bending. NFR’s themes of tumultuous love and loss are intricately laced with strings and synth, pulling from many different sources of inspiration. One can distinctly hear the 70’s classic rock influences, and yet, at the same time, her songs are incredibly timeless. Del Rey has had many labels—from indie pop to R&B and beyond and uses influences from genres like lo-fi and hip hop. You simply can’t put her music in a box.
Following up 2017’s “Lust for Life" was no easy task, as that album was met with quite favorable reviews. Whereas "Norman F*****g Rockwell!" is more tender with a more overall hopeful tone, Lana now sways between reality and mystery. Her lyrics paint a vivid picture, but is it all her reality? Or is it the collective experience of hopeless romance meeting the American dream?
The entire album is a dream-scape of a kind on-par with Lana’s brand. The revving of American-made engines, the nostalgic pull of retro aesthetics and a yearning for love. She’s never been stronger; this is the most self-aware her music has ever been. Lana Del Rey is cooler than ever.