Lana Del Rey’s ‘Lust For Life': A Track-by-Track Breakdown
The album’s tone was set from very first single “Love,” a hopeful departure from Del Rey’s usually dark, melancholic fare. The sprawling sixteen song record, her longest to date, is as much a beacon of light as it is a politically-charged reminder of where America is now.
Outside of the shift in themes — perhaps notably the outright feminist “God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women In it," in which she uses the Statue of Liberty to represent the women left standing amidst the chaos — Lana Del Rey’s fifth release is exciting because of the involvement of other musicians.
From two A$AP Rocky collaborations to appearances by Sean Ono Lennon and Stevie Nicks, LDR proves herself to be a gateway between classic rock and hip-hop; a unique artist capable of keeping one foot in past influences with the other firmly planted in the future.
Regardless of what you think of Lana Del Rey, this exactly the kind of hopeful, poignantly political pop record that we need right now. Lana's lost absolutely none of her edge, but maintains a beautiful outlook on the future. Even as she watches Trump’s America unfold from the top of the Hollywood Sign, the girl who was born to die has found her lust for life, and we couldn’t be happier for her.
Scroll further down for a track-by-track breakdown of Lust For Life.
The opening track, performed for the first time at this year’s SXSW at a surprise showcase, also ushered Lana into a new era of sound. “Love," taking place against a sparse drum beat and floaty string production, is perhaps the happiest we have ever seen (or heard) the singer. From the somber reflections of heartbreak that put her on the map, she’s evolved with this hopeful, minimalistic ode to everyone who’s ever been “young and in love.”
"Lust for Life (feat. The Weeknd)"
The title track also boasts the album’s first feature, with none other than frequent collaborator The Weeknd. The sumptuous, unapologetically poppy track sees both of these gloomy heartbreakers brooding to, and about, each other, but in the hopeful tone of lovers with a future. They sing “They say only the good die young / That just ain’t right / ‘Cause we’re having too much fun” and the lust––for life and otherwise––is palpable. Starboy and Stargirl are reunited at the top of the Hollywood Sign, and the world couldn’t be better.
Del Rey had to give us a touch of somber wandering; it wouldn’t be a Lana Del Rey record otherwise. “It hurts to love you / But I still love you / It’s just the way I feel,” she bemoans as she wanders thirteen beaches to find the one where she can be alone. It’s a song that speaks to the lonely, star-filled poet that she remains at heart. Lana's learned to smile through the tears, but that doesn’t mean she’s not still quietly shedding a few.
A sensual, sensory experience, LDR conjures “cherries, wine, rosemary and thyme” amid a sexy downbeat. The slow-burning track is pure, diluted midsummer, and as delicious to listen to as the bodily pleasures that inspired that inspired the song. Would we expect anything less from the self-proclaimed Queen of Coney Island?
Not to be confused with “White Ferrari” (I’m fully kidding; Frank Ocean fans, do not come for me), Del Rey takes a top-down ride in a lover’s white mustang. Ever since we saw her hold her own against lumbering motorcycle gangs on ride and driving down a long highway in the video for “Burning Desire," we’ve been waiting another road-trip ready bop. Melancholic motor junkies, rejoice.
"Summer Bummer (feat. A$AP Rocky & Playboi Carti)"
Turning up the star power by two for A$AP’s first appearance on the album, Lana plays with the trap beats she began to favor in Honeymoon, and what better pair to traipse this world alongside her than her hip-hop JFK and Cash Carti? She trades verses about lovers not being bummers while Carti and Rocky shower her with, um, compliments: “Her sophistication makes you want to quit the bitch you’re dating.” Can’t argue with that logic (or with the delectable beat).
"Groupie Love (A$AP Rocky)"
A more soulful turn than “Summer Bummer," this Rocky duet contemplates the life of a groupie as she has to share her man with the rest of the world. “Every time you look up / I know what you’re thinking of / You want my groupie love,” she swoons. You can perfectly imagine the scene from the “National Anthem” video where Rocky blows her a kiss and she holds it to her heart.
"In My Feelings"
What sounds like another doleful ballad turns out to be a bait-and-switch. “In My Feelings” sees Lana Del Rey at her most independent, as she tosses aside an old lover, devouring the word looooser with a relish befitting of everything she’s achieved. She sings about laughing as she takes no prisoners, takes down names, makes good love and makes good money, too. Somebody’s obviously been watching Lemonade.
"Coachella - Woodstock In My Mind"
Although some of you might roll your eyes (or, for the purists, openly gasp) at the comparison of Woodstock to Coachella, Del Rey makes a point here about the power and atmosphere of music festivals, and the kind of communities we should all enjoy. When you think about the fact that this song was written amid the backdrop of impending nuclear threat, it becomes an uplifting beacon of hope, a snapshot of joy in the middle of trying times.
"God Bless America - And All the Beautiful Women In It"
Lana Del Rey hasn’t played with acoustic guitar sounds since covering Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2," and the opening eventually builds into the electronic orchestra that usually bolsters her work. This song is notable for using the imagery of the Statue of Liberty to empower American women. Listen closely, and there’s criticism amidst the empowerment: two gun shots sound every time she sings “God bless America.”
"When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing"
Another anthem for the young, Lana Del Rey contemplates the end of America as she surveys the damage, and encourages everyone suffering to keep on dancing. She maintains, in the most political of reality checks, the message of hope that bolsters the entire record: “It’s only the beginning / if we hold on to hope / We’ll have a happy ending.”
"Beautiful People Beautiful Problems (feat. Stevie Nicks)"
The track that every single music blog has been salivating over since the announcement of these two witchy women teaming up does not disappoint. An ethereal anthem to troubled love by the two women in the world most familiar with the topic, "Beautiful People" features Stevie Nicks’ immediately distinguishable voice at its best, playing with Del Rey’s soft whispers and raising them to new emotional heights.
"Tomorrow Never Came (feat. Sean Ono Lennon)"
With a refrain that makes a gentle nod to Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” and Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer," Lana Del Rey and Sean Ono Lennon are steeped in classic rock as interpreted by the new generation of musicians. These two show off their musical chops and their deep emotional ties to an era of American music so many think is dead. “I adored you / And I just wanted things to be the same,” they sing to each other amid soft guitar and Beatles-esque production that would bring the most stone-hearted doubters to tears.
A tender song about death in an album full of life, Del Rey pays tribute to the drug that’s taken so many of her icons. It’s impossible to not think of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground’s song of the same name as the track builds to an intensity, to Del Rey “writing on the walls in blood and s--t.”
Lana Del Rey hasn’t sang over a piano barebones like this since “Old Money," a heartbreaking track from Ultraviolence that samples the love theme from Franco Zafirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. This song, doubling as both personal empowerment and a blanket statement about keeping hope alive during times of great turmoil, is by far her most powerful and heartbreaking as she attempts to be honest, capable, and beautiful in the face of instability.
The final track, building into a Beach Boys-like melody, is a song of intense relief after so much contemplation and turmoil. Equal parts calm and danceable, this is the perfect ending to an album so full of deep philosophical thought. She revisits the theme of having a war on her mind, subverting it by finally living her own life away from somebody else’s game. It’s this independence that gives Del Rey her lust for life, and makes this the perfect closer to an album full of contemplations of intense growth.
Lana Del Rey Through the Years: