Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The opening words to Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey’s third album proper are “We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me”. It’s an apt description of her relationship with the characters that inhabit her songs and her critics. It’s also a gloriously insouciant way to open her most realised and beautiful record to date. Despite creating a legendary viral stir with “Video Games” in 2011, by the time she released Born To Die, questions were being asked, namely who the ‘team Lana Del Rey' pulling the strings were (as surely she was too good to be true) and whether she was an anti-feminist.
Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey's follow-up to her 2014 album, Ultraviolence, is at times brilliant and occasionally boring, a record that moves and morphs, taunts and mystifies, like the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland. Strings swell on the titular opening track and then Del Rey's voice, dark and deep like a goblet of blood-red wine, fills in. "We both know that it's not fashionable to love me," she says, deadpan.
After two-and-a-half-studio albums of beauty queen perdition and nihilist luxe – 2014’s Ultraviolence, 2012’s debut Born to Die and its half-sibling, The Paradise Edition – you wouldn’t have thought there would be any road left for Lana Del Rey to coast down, her long hair casually whipping the cheek of some stony-faced sugar daddy. So adept has Del Rey been at exploring the internal worlds of numbed female characters posing as arm candy, it seemed that her master narrative – beautiful women, bad scenes – could only ever be wrung dry. Not so.
From day one, Lana Del Rey has been dogged with authenticity jibes. It’s taken three albums, but with ‘Honeymoon’, there can be absolutely no questions over the ‘real’ Lana Del Rey. She’s created a world of her own, and on this latest record she sinks deep into its clutches. ‘Honeymoon’ is a romantic obsession drowning in darkness.
Earlier this year, Lana Del Rey said that her third album ‘Honeymoon’ would be “very different” to her previous release, 2014’s underselling ‘Ultraviolence’. That album had seen the ‘Video Games’ singer work with Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach to strip away the more modern elements of 2012 debut ‘Born To Die’ in favour of a vintage, smoky feel. The constant was the character that Del Rey – real name Lizzie Grant – has fostered: a brooding femme fatale, a stray extra from a Tim Burton film, the sultry face of sadness.
A honeymoon with Lana Del Rey is more sticky than sweet: Get ready to enter a world of truly tortured romance, complete with enough bitterness, lust and violence for a one-woman revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? If the pop star's guitar-laced 2014 LP, Ultraviolence, was a one-night stand with a new sound, her follow-up is the morning after — the moment when Del Rey gets back to what she's best at. The moody, cinematic string arrangements on the title track and the wistful highlight "Music to Watch Boys To" recall her 2012 debut. She goes further into pop on the supercatchy single "High by the Beach" and the excellently sultry "Freak"; the latter song's steady bass thump and druggy abandon evoke her recent collaborator the Weeknd in particularly exciting ways.
The fruition of Honeymoon smacks of strict creative control: there was minimal press – one notable interview with friend/superfan James Franco – the album’s public playback took place at Urban Outfitters, and the production team was confined to Del Rey herself, long-time engineer Kieron Menzies and Ultraviolence/Born to Die producer Rick Nowels. The resulting album is naturally self-indulgent, but her most sophisticated and refined yet. Her score-like songs are self-sabotagingly slow, striving for Rat-Pack romance and often succeeding.
Dearest Lana, Thank you for your latest communication. Given that you have 5.7million Twitter followers and nearly 12 million fans on Facebook, I still can't believe that you’re writing directly to me. And only me.. I am very touched by your invitation to come to California. You make it sound as ….
In a day and age where most things desired are located effortlessly, accessed immediately and consumed rapidly, a new full length record released in less than 18 months from an artist as high-profile as Lana Del Rey is pretty speedy indeed. Our first clue, the word “honeymoon”, is a positive one. Its definition generally equates to the most memorable and romantic trip of a recently married couple.
On the cover of Honeymoon, we see our star, Lana Del Rey, the idle passenger of a parked convertible Hollywood tourmobile, gazing behind her through face-obscuring shades. As an artist, she's never shied away from the obvious, but the image feels almost too on-the-nose, too apt—Lana doing The Full Lana. And yet, that's exactly what Honeymoon gives us—it is Lana Del Rey's purest album-length expression, and her most artistic one.
BELOW, THE BOARHOUND AND THE BOAR PURSUE THEIR PATTERN AS BEFORE BUT RECONCILED AMONG THE STARS “It’s longer than I like and mostly drags, but there are some bits I’m very fond of.”– MIT page about T.S. Eliot’s “Burnt Norton” “And do not call it fixity,Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,Neither ascent nor decline.
“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” the final song and only cover on Lana Del Rey’s wistfully catatonic third LP, Honeymoon, has — like the singer formerly known as Lizzy Grant and, let us not forget, Gangster Nancy Sinatra — gone through a series of reinventions. Nina Simone’s dolorous 1964 original preceded the Animals’ kicked-up contender for top of the charts, only to be blasted into dusty memory by the lusty horns in Santa Esmerala’s (ten-minute long!) disco reboot. “Baby, you understand me now,” Del Rey murmurs through lazy lips over a slowed-down, thinned-out version of that iconic organ phrase; and yet another layer of meaning swims to the hazy surface of a half-century-old song.
Lana Del Rey has managed to carve out a nice little niche for herself ever since her debut single Video Games propelled her into the spotlight. After failing to find success as Lizzy Grant, the 30-year-old reinvented herself as the self-proclaimed “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”. While that particular description may be somewhat overblown, there is a grand, cinematic quality to Del Rey’s sound that really marks her out from the rest of the pop chart.
Call Honeymoon the third installment in a trilogy if you will but there's no indication Lana Del Rey will put her doomed diva persona to rest after this album. Over the course of three albums, Lana Del Rey hasn't so much expanded her delicately sculpted persona as she has refined it, removing anything extraneous to her exquisite ennui. Honeymoon doesn't drift or float, it marks time, sometimes swelling with a suggestion of impending melodrama but often deflating to just an innervated pulse.
Lana Del Rey has moved through enough phases to complete her own full moon cycle. In 2011, she was the underground hit. In 2012, she was the SNL meme. In 2013, she was the forced fame starlet turned self-aware joke. In 2014, she was the darling about to break. Now, at last, she’s back to herself ….
Lana Del ReyHoneymoonInterscopeRating: 3.5 out of 5 stars It only took Lana Del Rey a few short years to go through the cycle of hype, backlash, and redemption that normally takes artists most of their careers to span. And, since no one should know better that momentum is a fleeting thing in this business, it’s perhaps not surprising that she hustled out her new album Honeymoon for release barely a year after Ultraviolence earned her accolades as a comeback kid. The good news is that the new album doesn’t betray any signs of haste.
If "beach goth" is already a musical genre taken by neo-surf rockers, then Lana Del Rey's new album Honeymoon has given birth to "tropical noir;" all the imagery of swaying palm trees and hallucinatory California sunsets with the heightened drama and mystery of an old Hollywood film score. The "sad girl" longing to be transported to a more glamorous past has been the foundation of all Del Rey's prior works, but with Honeymoon the references to James Dean, lipstick, party dresses, and Queens of Saigon have given way to even more saturnine musings on fame and troubled love. .
Lana Del Rey's Honeymoon concentrates not on the bliss of romantic escape, but rather, more predictably, on the comforts of time away dwelling in one's solitary melancholy. In a sense, this is an extension of last year's Ultraviolence, where Del Rey's (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) fetishization of her own preferred romantic—or anti-romantic—submissiveness became self-alienating. But where at least the specters of suitors pined for, or commiserated with, impressed themselves on that music, Honeymoon's dramatically sparse arrangements suggest a gaping absence of any presence to contest Del Rey's own.
Lana Del Rey posits critics in both the position of Alice and The Caterpillar when he asks, through puffs of opium spoke, “Whoooooo are you?” Since the indie blog fascination with her botox lips and found-footage clip for ‘Video Games’ inverted into disappointment and lambasting when her debut full-length Born To Die was finally released, there has been a desperate scramble to answer the question while also standing in a haze, unable to solve such a simple puzzle. We like our pop stars to be easily categorized: Miley is a technicolor queer hippie; Rihanna is a baddie with nary a fuck to give; Halsey is sex, drugs and alt-pop. With Del Rey, there is no such convenience.
Lana Del Rey looks out into the world and all she sees are stares. Cold faces, eyes hard with judgment. And lights, too — sharp beams that poke like needles and cut like lasers. For years, she has been scrutinized as intently as she’s been listened to. You would not blame her even a bit for ….
Lana Del Rey is frequently portrayed as detached despite being one of pop’s most effortful singers. Notes are drawn out, and her phrasing is full of theatrical pacing and finesse that mirror her tendency to tease metaphysical questions from love-life observations. It’s nice to listen to someone who enjoys singing as much as she does, especially on the kind of ambivalent, lonely ballads (Music To Watch Boys To, High By The Beach and God Knows I Tried) at which she excels.
Four years after “Video Games”, Lana Del Rey still isn’t a star in the traditional sense. This is despite her immense popularity, the millions of records she’s sold. Del Rey follows an orbit that intersects only here and there with those of other heavenly bodies. She’s the Pluto of the pop solar system, an outsider located in its coldest, distant reaches.
Embodying all the complex and contradictory facets of the American Dream, one at a time, Del Rey has managed, so far, to leave everyone pondering how much is true and how much is made up not only in what she sings but also in herself, even in her appearance. On the cover of her latest record, Honeymoon, we see the singer, red, wide brimmed hat and sunglasses on, standing inside one of those open-top vans belonging to Starlite, the company that takes tourists on tours among the Hollywood stars estates in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. What is she doing there? Wasn't she supposed to be a villa-owner, rather than a visiting everyman? That is, for the reality hunger generation, truth and lies can lie side by side with no boundaries needed, and still be real.