While she attempts the occasional new sound, Lana Del Rey fails to deliver anything special on this record.
Lana Del Rey‘s newest album Chemtrails Over The Country Club appears at first glance to be a bold step into new musical territory for the singer, but upon further inspection, it’s disappointingly bland.
The record sees Lana make new shifts, both thematically and musically. The familiar scenes of Californian beaches and fancy cars that are typical of Lana’s music are replaced by a love for the South as Lana moves from Los Angeles to Arkansas. This gives fans a new insight into the singer’s life, but unfortunately seems to get lost throughout the record.
Chemtrails Over The Country Club starts off intringuingly with ‘White Dress’, a song reminiscing about lost youth and innocence. Lana sings ”when I was a waitress, wearing a white dress”, was when she truly ”felt seen”. This is one of the more powerful images on the album; the nostalgia reminds us of Lana’s incredible fame, and makes us question the effects it has had on her life. The lyrics point to a deeper meaning – one that presents Lana as an over-analysed, misunderstood celebrity who really just wants to be left alone to he music. However, the vocal performance on this song makes it difficult to listen to. It’s certainly different from the usual vocals we are used to from Lana – she tests out a new whispering falsetto to match the sad tone of the song, but it ends up sounding half-finished. On top of this, the build at the end of the song leads one to think that bigger vocals are about to break out from the falsetto, but instead it is anti-climactic, and leaves one feeling underwhelmed.
The title track, ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’, delivers some chilled summer vibes. The lyrics are nothing special, talking of jewels, swimming pools, and playing it cool, which we all know Lana has been doing for a long time. However, overall the song pulls it off. It has a much stronger melody than many of the other tracks, and is a much-needed reminder of Lana Del Rey’s songwriting abilities.
One of the biggest musical shifts that Lana makes is apparant on ‘Tulsa Jesus Freak’, which uses a laid-back hip-hop beat, as well as something horrifically new for Lana: autotune. The production from Jack Antonoff works well to bring together the calming tone of the song, but is slightly offset by the autotune, which comes across as jarring and out of place for Lana’s voice.
After the first section of the album, the quality slowly decreases. ‘Wild At Heart’, ‘Yosemite’ and ‘Dance Till We Die’ seem to reuse many familar sounds from Lana’s past work, but don’t reuse them in an exciting way. On an album that strives to break away from expectations, these songs don’t seem to fit in. Even after multiple listens, they are easily forgotten.
There are a few standout moments that are scattered throughout the songs, but they are few and far between. The chorus on ‘Dark But Just A Game’ is reminiscient of a Beatles track, using isolated sweet-sounding harmonies amidst the gloomy bass and beat of the track, bringing a unique moment to the album. The ending choruses of ‘Wild At Heart’ are built beautifully, layering dramatic vocals over one another in stunning harmonies. The line ”if they love me they love me” is repeated, again touching on the theme of fame and it’s detrimental effects.
Overall, this record feels feels half-finished. For a well-esablished singer who has often bragged about her innovative talents, Lana Del Rey sadly fails to deliver anything groundbreaking.
Ultimately, the problem with Chemtrails Over The Country Club is that the new musical and thematic shifts aren’t explored fully. There are momentary peaks, but the overall effect is underwhelming. Lana Del Rey sticks to the script, for better or for worse.
Chemtrails Over The Country Club is out now on Polydor Records. Watch the video for ‘White Dress’ here: