Despite all of Lana Del Rey’s often sighted character flaws, the biggest problem with her 2014 release of Ultraviolence had nothing to do with her problematic lyrics and whiny angst-ridden teen attitude — the album was just boring. That problem persists on her newest 2015 effort Honeymoon to an even greater degree.
It’s hard to distinguish one moaning lyrical line from another, especially when every beat is the same buzzing bass with some droaning strings over top. The vocal lines just lack melody and a sense of structure.
This is nothing new. Del Rey made her career on these grand operatic vocals and her glamorized gloom and doom ethos. But if that’s your jam, you’ll find less of it on Honeymoon. The songs don’t meet that same anthemic quality that had previously made her music more attractive. Songs such as “Ultraviolence,” “Summertime Sadness” and “Young And Beautiful” all felt like there were building to something, even if the eventual release was less gratifying than hoped. On Honeymoon it sounds like she’s given up on trying to build any kind of emotion what so ever.
Other artist have taken a similar minimalist approach with much greater effect such as Drake and FKA Twigs, who manage to do a lot with a little to make their music compelling. Honeymoon consistently sounds like a bad 007 intro credit scene that just can’t end soon enough.
Yet, despite these major flaws in her music, we (the public as a whole) have an odd fascination with this artist who turned slow, sad ballads (Hollywood sad-core) into pop hits. Unfortunately, I fear that intrigue comes from her depression, which has been glamorized by herself and the media cycle.
She’s detached herself from that cycle this time around allowing Honeymoon to stand on its own. However, the lyrics are displaying those same problematic qualities that shined through in her interviews.
This album is filled with troubling lyrics about giving up, not just on life itself, but on goals and any sense of motivation. There just seems to be no value in this message and only stands to hurt the people that look up to her.
On “Freak” she sings “if you wanna leave, come to California and be a freak like me too,” as if everyone can leave their situation and travel across the country and live like a rockstar. Not everyone can wallow in their sorrows while getting “High by the Beach.” Lana seems to be living in her own little fantasy world where young, privileged women can escape their woes with drugs and the power of free will. But that’s not reality, and it’s actually a dangerous message to spread.
I’ve not been a fan of her previous albums as a whole, but there have always been standout tunes that make it onto a couple playlists. There’s simply nothing spectacular on Honeymoon, just passable tunes filling space. It really only makes me worry more about this young, troubled artist, and the fans who take pleasure in her struggles.
Long time fans will be attracted to these qualities because these traits have been in her music from the beginning. I just wish she would have grown up more since those first hits. She’s not winning anyone new over with this album and she hasn’t grown as an artist or as a person.
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Image courtesy of Interscope Records