Album Review: Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over The Country Club (Polydor)
Now on her sixth studio album, Lana Del Rey is one of those pop stars who has such a definitive sound and style. With all her albums so far highlighting light headed vocals, soft acoustic melodies and sombre and dark themes, it became enough to make me apprehensive about what was to come next. Conjuring up worries that COTCC would be just another ‘typical Lana album’, damaging what has been so good about her trademark sound so far. This worry was only to be strengthened in my mind when hearing the lead single and title track, ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club‘.
Although the single adheres to Rey’s routine sound, the opening track ‘White Dress’ doesn’t. It actually took me by surprise, giving me (slight) hope for a differently styled album. Although instrumentally it is everything to be expected from Rey, the lyrics are clearly based around true events in her life. Something that is rarely evident in Rey’s past releases, and strengthens this song as a highlight. Although giving me hope, soon came the realisation that a particular problem this album faces is reoccuring unintelligent lyricism. A worse surprise, as the previous work of Rey has always hooked me. Notably in being like listening to poetry paired with melodies. Especially on her last album ‘Norman fucking Rockwell!’. An album that deservedly won an NME award and was nominated for two Grammys . This album however, is lacking in those poetic lines, and instead uses tired, overused phrases, or just simple statements. “If I had to do it all again I would” springs to my mind. Perhaps Lana has changed her style of writing due to being accused of being inauthentic, but for me, this album feels like a step backwards.
The sixth track, ‘Dark but just a game’ stands out as the point where the album finally picks up. Trading in her typical sound, this track has a range of different instrumentation. A mixture of acoustic and electric. With heavier influence in the percussions, switching from dark verses to light choruses. This song is the perfect afternoon relaxation track.
While the majority of this album lies akin to all her previous work – light and melodic instrumentation, soprano vocals and low tempos – there are a few notable tracks that deserve commendation. In ‘Breaking up slowly’ Rey shows us her strong (not quite belt, but close) vocals. Delivered full enough to capture the attention of the listener, proving she can do more than she’s letting on. If only she would have shown us more throughout the album.
Then also my personal favourite track on this album, ‘Dancing till we die’. While it begins by luring you into the sense of security that is a Lana song, towards the end she brings back that bolder voice and includes more upbeat, jazz-styled melodies. A nod towards Lady Gaga’s style in the Jolene album. If Lana had have branched out into this style more throughout the album, it’d be a much higher rating from me. Perhaps she needs a little more courage before she completely breaks her tried and tested approach.