She’s Out of the Black
Lana Del Rey is like a mysterious bruise on pop music; harrowingly coasting through her three prior studio albums, Lust for Life triggers an emotional leap out of her pit of despair. This album could have been a predictable sound overhaul, but Del Rey remains consistent — she’s still the sophisticated cool girl from Born to Die, but now she has a Lust for Life.
“Love” is breezy rock n’ roll, playing from a jukebox at a ‘50s-themed prom. It’s vital to Lust for Life as a glowing feature of nostalgic young love. The title track follows with a collaboration for which fans have been holding their breath. Del Rey and The Weeknd trade verses on a doo-wop number that hits the sultry aesthetic they’re both known for, as well as the mutual acknowledgment that a “Lust for Life” keeps them alive. Del Rey admits she “can’t deal” with fame, escaping paparazzi by traveling to “13 Beaches” before finding one that was empty. She lets loose and slurs, “Hip-hop in the summer / don’t be a bummer babe,” over a trip-hop beat featuring A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti, then A$AP makes a psychedelic encore on “Groupie Love.”
The 32-year-old questions the state of the world, “Is it the end of an era / is it the end of America?” However, she remains optimistic, singing “It’s only the beginning / if we hold on to hope / we’ll have a happy ending.” Fans used to her murmured alto should find it refreshing to hear a haunting, operatic quality to Del Rey’s voice on “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing.” Channeling yesteryear Stevie Nicks’ folky rasp paired with Lana’s own lull makes for two “beautiful people with beautiful problems.” Then, as an homage to The Beatles’ trippy “Tomorrow Never Knows,” comes the Sean Lennon-produced “Tomorrow Never Came.” As if on cue, listeners get sucked into a “Heroin”-induced haze before a brooding piano ballad on which Del Rey realizes that “Change” starts with her.
Lust for Life has the promising ending to hit home: the fact it’s the first album cover in which fans see Del Rey donning a genuine smile. “Out of the black, into the blue,” she sings as a reverse to the iconic Neil Young lyrics that referenced soldiers going “into the black” to fight in tunnels during the Vietnam War. The singer has gloomy battles of her own, and makes the auspicious lyrical twist allowing her to “Get Free.”
The album drips with Shangri-La-inspired think pieces that only the queen of flower crowns and sultry pouts can pull off. Lana Del Rey pushes through her tunnel of darkness into a glimmering hue of hope that finally shows she has a Lust for Life.