After a year of dropping singles from her new album, Lana Del Rey released her highly-anticipated sixth studio album “Norman F—ing Rockwell!” Aug. 30, named after the illustrator known for his portrayal of American culture. From “Mariners Apartment Complex” released last September to her release of “The greatest” a week prior to “NFR!,” Del Rey has garnered attention around this album for quite a while. Known for her sad songs with sweet melodies and Americana-heavy lyrics, Del Rey does not disappoint with an album full of gorgeous instrumentals and lyrics that read like poetry.
The first and title track explores a new, raw sound that Lana Del Rey is not known for: her gentle vocals backed by piano and not much else, singing “Why wait for the best when I could have you?” She continues this sort of reflective sound in “Mariners Apartment Complex” with a guitar-laced track and lyrics like “Don’t look too far, right where you are, that’s where I am. I’m your man.” Del Rey has strayed from the typical pop-esque backings ever-so present on her debut album, coming and evolving into a sound that is her very own.
“But I love that man like nobody can. He moves mountains and turns them to ground again.”– “How to disappear”
A few tracks later, she strays away from the softer sound of the first four tracks and evokes a fantasy of sunbathing in Long Beach, Calif. with a cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” with a summer-y beat, singing “Summertime, and the livin’s easy,” a joyful song accompanied with a music video of a giant-Lana Del Rey stomping through California, contrasting one of her most popular songs: “Summertime Sadness.” She proves this album a beach-centric love letter to California with a song titled after the state itself and her nine-minute long track, “Venice B—-.”
Del Rey sings majestically and tenderly of love in “Love song” and the track “Bartender,” sticking to the vibe of this album with tunes that attest to the emotional depth present in a majority of her lyrics. “The taste, the touch, the way we love/It all comes down to make the sound of our love song,” she sings in “Love song,” one of the most heartfelt songs on the whole album (although it’s hard to decide which song takes this title with such songs scattered throughout the tracklist). Her stories of being in love yet heartbroken ring true in “Cinnamon Girl” with the lyric “Like if you hold me without hurting me, you’ll be the first who ever did.”
She follows with a jazzy, drum-backed song with contrasting melancholy lyrics in “How to disappear.” Finishing in a duo of songs that are the most poetic on the album, Del Rey continues to amaze with the lovely, piano-based sounds of “Happiness is a butterfly” and “Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have– but I have it,” the latter being a delicate Sylvia Plath-inspired ballad representative of Del Rey’s phenomenal songwriting abilities.
“A modern-day woman with a weak constitution, ’cause I’ve got– “Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it”
Monsters still under my bed that I could never fight off.”
Lana Del Rey never fails to bring sadness to her music with a beauty that has no doubt been a major reason that she has gained such a broad fanbase with songs that appeal to lovers of the music of the past to lovers of pop. Interestingly, she tells so many compelling stories of life with a different gloomy, stunning melody each time.
With “NFR!,” Del Rey demonstrates that she possesses power and a striking beauty not only in her instrumentals and melodies that stray from some of her past albums but also through her lyricism. This album solidifies Del Rey, proving her to be as good of a songwriter as she is a vocalist. Not as melancholic of an album as her 2014 release “Ultraviolence,” Del Rey’s “NFR!” adds a playfulness to sorrow, showing her truest self and proving to be an “album-artist” with a body of work that can only be truly listened to in the track order.