Lana Del Rey’s ambition to revitalise ‘50s/’60s American culture has long been shown to be more than a skin deep gimmick. For instance, her début major label record, Born to Die, took characteristics of Billie Holiday (and the like), her fashion choices have always been informed by her aim to be like a ‘gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ and her gloomy, string-led sound on much of her music has always taken influence from the olde-time pop music of the era. But there have always been several factors in her music that distanced Del Rey from the era. Born to Die’s trip-hop beats, used as a backdrop for her string arrangements, are one case of this and the more guitar-led sound of 2014’s Ultraviolence – while of a noire persuasion – was another step away from this movement.
However, this has changed with the first taste of Lana Del Rey’s next album – thought to be named Honeymoon – with the title-track; “Honeymoon”. The nigh-six-minute pop ballad features Del Rey’s now-signature sombre approach to balladry and with its layered harmonies and ominous cinematic string arrangements it’s clear that Lizzy Grant (Del Rey’s real name) has narrowed down her sound in her wish to truly emulate her ‘50s idols.
Lyrically, the song is a dichotomously sombre and happy affair as Del Rey’s new ‘husband’ – ‘Mr. Born to Lose’ – has a “history of violence that surrounds [him]” and his true nature is elusive; even to Del Rey herself. Alongside this dismal situation however, it contains the hope that the love-struck pairing can escape via “Wilshire Boulevard” and dream away their lives. It’s as dark a setting as any in Del Rey’s music as it features a relationship that would only work in the movies and serves as a prelude to what may be Del Rey’s darkest record to date.
Even if “Honeymoon” isn’t to your taste, if there’s anything that Lana Del Rey can be commended upon is her ability to illustrate characters and settings. “Honeymoon” continues this five-year trend.
Originally written by me for Forty5