2017 delivered some exciting news: Lana Del Rey can smile. Although this seems like a reasonable thing for a human being to do, up until a few months ago it was up for debate. And not only can she smile, Del Rey actually shows off her pearl-white teeth on the cover of “Lust for Life,” her new album.
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Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the only change in Del Rey’s career. The woman who introduced herself to the world while immersed in Instagram filters has been riding the aesthetically-depressed ticket for the past six years – and with great success. While bloggers and music critics fought over the extent of her authenticity, Del Rey was busy carving a unique niche for herself, building a distinctive voice and gathering an audience of wide-eyed fans. Her love for nostalgia has enabled listeners to relish in drama and glam that are usually reserved for ancient, distant things.
In “Lust for Life,” Del Rey still sounds like something out of a 1940s soundtrack, wrapped in hip-hop beats. Her persona is still so caressing that it’s almost liquid; She’s still in love with love, turned on by death, obsessed with youth.
When it works, it’s like floating on the Dead Sea. The singles “Love” and “Lust for Life” with The Weeknd are automatic classics; “Groupie Love” is her best collaboration with A$AP Rocky yet, while the unforgettable “Cherry” is a destructive and heartrending bomb of depression.
Del Rey’s current attempt to expand her boundaries is reflected in two pseudo-protest songs. “God Bless America – and All the Beautiful Women in It” expresses feminine solidarity in these dark times, while “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing,” combines escapism and criticism, with somewhat embarrassing results.
Del Rey has often opposed President Donald Trump and even admitted that she tried to cast a spell on him. Recently, she said she had stopped using the American flag during her performances, because it “got weird.”
While this attempt is admirable, unfortunately it doesn’t work. Del Rey made a career of being a perfect escapist fantasy, and any slight deviation from that script is like breaking character.
Recently, Del Rey has been constantly talking about change, as though if she declares her intentions to the world, it will help her push through the barriers that are restricting her. It will be interesting to see whether she succeeds in taking her music to different places. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to the newfound smile and the gloomy sense of consolation it provides. God knows we all need some Lana Del Rey in our lives during the Israeli summer.