Music Review: Lana Del Rey’s Ethereal “Honeymoon”

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The album cover of “Honeymoon,” released on September 18th, 2015.

Minnah Zaheer, Editor

On Friday, September 18th, 2015, “Young and Beautiful” artist Lana Del Rey officially released her fourth studio album to date, entitled Honeymoon. An emotionally charged collection of musically dark songs, Honeymoon showcases some of Del Rey’s most haunting vocals to date and her continued skill as a songwriter, even if it never reaches the heights of her previous records.

The album begins with the title track “Honeymoon,” in which Del Rey croons about her dangerous and captivating lover with no instrumental aid other than minimal strings. While the track is slow and not as attention-grabbing as some of Del Rey’s other songs, both on this album and on her previous ones, it still provides a smooth introduction to the thematic elements of the rest of the record.

Once the album transitions into one of its pre-released singles, “Music To Watch Boys To,” we begin to hear what Del Rey has always been uniquely skilled at: dreamy and creepily dark music that stays in your head days after you hear it. In January, Del Rey spoke to the Los Angeles times about this song specifically, citing the visual nature with which she wrote it: “I can see it and I can hear it…. The title lends itself to a visual of shadows of men passing by, this girl’s eyes, her face. I can definitely see things.” The song’s simple yet enchanting lyrics combined with the atmospheric background music make it my personal favorite on the entire record, and one of Del Rey’s strongest songs from any record to date.

Throughout the rest of the album, Del Rey continues to explore the darker side of love crossing into obsession, singing about her deep devotion and loss. By capping off the record with a cover of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and referencing David Bowie (the lyrics “Ground Control to Major Tom” slither their way into the chorus of the infectious “Terrence Loves You”), Del Rey is able to freeze time in the way she always has while still making it appealing to any audience willing to listen. The infectious melody and breathiness of the album’s lead single “High By the Beach” contrasts the song’s rather direct and simplistic lyrics, and only a few songs later the spoken-word “Burnt Notion – Interlude” is nothing if not a perfect way to highlight her lyrical abilities and prowess when it becomes necessary. Unfortunately, despite these strong points, the majority of the tracks have very similar backing moods that, while showcasing Del Rey’s vocals, never quite achieve the same emotional synthesis between music and lyrics her older records could.

One of the last songs on the record, “Swan Song,” cites Del Rey’s lingering desire to retire from the musical world (“I will never sing again/…It will be our swan song”). Even if “Honeymoon” is far from her best work, she would be dearly missed were she ever to do so.