WHILE HER POP-STAR PEERS have reinvented themselves every other year, Lana Del Rey has sharpened one unique musical idea over time. Where others express growth by expanding outward, dabbling in different genres and mediums, Lana gets a little better at being Lana every year.
In a sense, this makes the singer predictable. You could hazard a guess about what her new album will sound like and what her new video will look like before you ever press play. She’s going to serve bleak, Nick Cave–ish chamber music just sweet enough to render the darkness enticing. It’s going to be visualized through bleary Americana that almost seems to satirize the real thing, conjuring its nightmarish underside. Over the past nine years, Del Rey has whittled uncompromising, direct music out of the melodrama of her earliest songs, leaving a little excess behind at each turn. What remains are the melody and emotion that her older songs, such as 2012’s “National Anthem,” once drowned in thick instrumentals and beats. Those elements kept her records in contention on pop charts and radio—but what she has lost in hit potential she has recouped in craft.
That change made her last album, 2019’s Norman Fucking Rockwell!, a staggering achievement: a musing on Golden State horror haunted by serial killers, deceased rock stars, and “beautiful losers.” The protagonist’s big dream was to escape the bustle of cities, to seek a quiet life with “a kid and two cats in the yard” while the getting was still good. In Del Rey’s newest, Chemtrails Over the Country Club, however, she’s out exploring America, pining for Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Nebraska. The opener, “White Dress,” details an eventful trip to Florida.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The Soul Of Bravo
A year of national reckonings on race and inequality has tested how real the Housewives should be.
This One's on Her
A melancholy farce is nearly capsized by its star.
Daniel Dae Kim built a career by picking his battles, walking away from a job only when the inequities got too big to ignore. He still believes Hollywood can be reformed.
The Detonations of Alice Neel
A survey of her portraits at the Met is packed with raw emotional power.
The City Politic: David Freedlander
Stringer Theory The comptroller’s reward for a career in public service? Third place in the polls.
Political Animals: Olivia Nuzzi
The No-Splash Tell-all What the muted reaction to Hunter Biden’s crackfueled memoir says about his father’s Washington.
Moral Panic Is Back With a Vengeance
Lil Nas X’s “Montero” is the latest song to raise the hackles of conservative commentators—and everyone has a little something to gain from the controversy.
Esther Perel Goes Off Script
She became today’s most famous couples therapist by ignoring all the rules of the trade.
Mayor de Blasio hired an ''equity warrior'' as schools chancellor. How parental politics-and the pandemic-left him defeated
Richard Carranza’s Last Stand
Kingpins and wannabes barrel through the London underworld.