Chemtrails Over The Country Club – Lana Del Rey

I’ve always liked the subversive subtext to Lana Del Rey’s hyper Hollywood soaked brand of low key Indie dressed as mainstream Pop. Even if I’ve not been keen on every single song, I’ve seen the value in her way of doing things. I did adore the Born To Die album though and it’s follow up Paradise. Both of them released in 2012. It speaks volumes what a productive decade she has had. That breakthrough era positioned Lana as a powerhouse of well posed, rich, adult pop. Thematic and melodramatic. LDR occupied her own space during her meet the world period. She was the Gangster Nancy Sinatra or something.

How she gets away with the sort of high camp, high concept hypno-horror in this no expense spared video for what is at it’s core such a subtle and slight folk ballad is testament to the slings and arrows she’s endured since Video Games and Off To The Races had people lauding her as high art with one breath and calling out her rebanding from Lizzie Grant as some sort of fraud in the next.

To call her third album Ultraviolence in 2014 confirmed she would not be taking the easy path now she’s an established name. Working with Dan from The Black Keys meant there was going to be a vibe to proceedings. It’s a woozy record that expands what Lana can do in her given bag of tricks considerably. The title track making for uncomfortable darkness in the usually woozy whispered softness. The work ethic kept things rolling into Honeymoon in 2015. She’s still all doe eyes and soft cooing vocals over lush strings and 50’s glamour in the promo clips for High by The Beach and the other singles. Even still. the album opens with the lyric “We both know it’s not fashionable to love me”. There were quarters that were criticising Lana for making music that justified why abused women stay with their oppressive partners. Empathy is not the same thing as encouragement. Music To Watch Boys To from that album is a tipping point. The somber mood and strings (and yes whispering) remain, the context has changed though. Lana is developing a Lust For Life. The marked difference by 2017 shows Lana smiling on her own album cover. The next album has hip hop beats, guest rappers and high priestess of beauty in rock Stevie Nicks on one track. Lana can do happy, upbeat and hold her style and poise. All without shaking her butt unless she wants to.

Her most recent record before this new release was titled Norman Fucking Rockwell! The pop art sleeve just went with NFR! LDR. Definitely not taking the easy path. It spawned six singles. In 2019 that’s a pretty rare move for an established artists long player. Two of them featuring the F-Bomb in their titles (not to mention the F-Bombs in the lyrics) it’s abundantly clear she’s not doing this to shift units alone. Lana is now a Soft Rock Siren with her own agenda. The music industry hangs on her next move, it doesn’t dictate it. And it looks like she’s spending sometime in the Troubadour in the mid seventies for a while.

Chemtrails Over The Country Club is (I believe) an important record the same way Taylor Swift’s recent folk phase is important. This is not just women taking control of their art, this is quality control of the mainstream being directly influenced by the tent pole names that prop the industry up. I’m excited.

Not all pretty pop singers need to flout their inner Shewolf to survive the pop game. Of course it is important that Lana Del Rey is pretty. She’s made that part of the narrative herself. However this is not what her value is based on. The value in her character and her narrative is more than the hyper sexualised work of other pop titans.

So Chemtrails the single makes for a heck of a good short sci-fi horror movie in it’s video as well as a catchy dreamy song fully in the style established by the artist but not afraid to wig out and go on a psych-rock diversion. This is good art. It’s quality pop and it’s full of interesting ideas. White Dress is the other newish single released from the new album so far. It’s a slight delicate folk song given the full current LDR treatment and throwing back lyrically to her pre-fame days. Almost eight months ago Let Me Love You Like A Woman preceded everything else to come. This was back when the records working title was still White Hot Forever. On the album these three tracks take their place among ten original compositions before closing out with a cover of one of my favourite Joni Mitchell songs (For Free from Ladies Of The Canyon).

Chemtrails Over The Country Club the record marks a watershed. Del Rey is in celebratory mood. For the first time since Born To Die she is doing TV shows to promote her work and is counting her blessings. This albums optimism is just the thing we need as the first spring and summer after all the lock downs approach. As the final original song (before the cover) on the record so hopefully intones.

“We wont stop dancing until we die”


8 thoughts on “Chemtrails Over The Country Club – Lana Del Rey

  1. While everyone looks to Taylor Swift and the Ed Sheeran’s of this world as the most influential pop artists of the 2010s, there is no denying that Lana Del Rey is pretty cool and should be held in that same regard. Moreover I think she has proven repeatedly that she can produce great albums. In my book, she has become one of my favourite female artist because quite frankly there is no one like her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny I was just reviewing Trixie Mattel’s interesting cover of Del Rey’s “Video Games” and this comes up. I love your characterization of her as ‘ganster Nancy Sinatra and ‘high concept hypno horror’! Now you remind me I need to review her most recent stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve tried to get into the Del Rey world a few times, at random occasions, and never quite felt it but I’ve actually been playing this track quite endlessly since I first heard it. It’s especially good very loud, as the bass fuzzes underneath and creates a glorious vibration of atmospherics.

    I will keep trying on other stuff of hers!

    Liked by 1 person

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