Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails over the Country Club
It was in 2011 that Elizabeth Grant unveiled her creation, Lana Del Rey. With a vintage vibe and the stylised demeanour of a poetic prom queen, the artsy Video Games quickly established her as a singer/songwriter quite unlike any other. Some might have dismissed it all as a passing fad, very much of the moment. Five studio albums, several EPs and a spoken word collection later suggest otherwise. Experimenting with different sounds and collaborations, Del Rey’s hypnotic, melancholy murmurs, and lyrics littered with pop culture references have remained constant.
2019’s Norman Fucking Rockwell propelled the singer to new artistic heights. With little in the way of singles or radio-friendly tracks, the album contained a cohesive collection of songs that were not afraid to tackle present and pressing issues stemming from Trump-era America. It was a new trajectory for the artist and an overt creative progression. Reuniting with producer Jack Antonoff, this follow-up feels quieter and more minimal, and carries less of a bite than its predecessor. Mulling over fame and the temptation to leave LA for a simpler life lends Chemtrails over the Country Club a personal, intimate feel, layered with a pensive vulnerability. Ballad-led, it’s a meditative and brooding record, conjuring a completely self-contained world and inviting listeners to temporarily inhabit themselves within it. In many ways it is pure Lana, and is sure to become a fan favourite – but it also excavates deeper, exposing a fragility unseen on any of her previous efforts.
The album opens with the quietly understated White Dress, the chorus a desperate whisper and the verses afforded an urgency as Del Rey tries to cram in as many words as possible. The song alludes to a time before fame, enjoying listening to Kings of Leon and The White Stripes “when they were white-hot”. It sets the tone for a wistful body of work.
As well as the title track and the previously released Let Me Love You like a Woman, standouts include Dark but Just a Game, which morphs mumblings over a faintly hip-hop influenced beat with a stripped-back folk-style chorus that’s perhaps even slightly reminiscent of The Beatles. The chanteuse is at her most atmospheric with the haunting Yosemite, and Dance till We Die exhibits her strength in storytelling. Not All Who Wander Are Lost is beautiful in its construction, with exquisitely rich vocals. Tulsa Jesus Freak is entrancing, and Wild at Heart carries a country music feel, the genre’s influences marrying well with the melodrama of the lyrics.
Lana Del Rey has always been an enthralling storyteller, with Americana her main character. Rather than breaking completely new ground, this album is a continuation of the cinematic narrative first explored on Born to Die, and it’s arguably the closest she has come to replicating her debut’s simplicity, albeit in a more refined manner. Chemtrails might not stray far from a tried-and-tested formula, but it doesn’t need to. This is lowkey Lana at her most delicate, proving the prolific artist to be as alluring as ever. She drives in her own lane and it’s always a thrill to be her passenger.
Chemtrails over the Country Club is released on 19th March 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Lana Del Rey’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Chemtrails over the Country Club here: