Lana Del Rey’s fourth album, Lust for Life makes concessions to modern life with the inclusion of collaborators but stays the course with her usual surrender to the dream life.
Her song with Stevie Nicks — Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems — keeps the spell alive. Summer Bummer featuring A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti sounds contrived, a square peg in a round hole.
Del Rey’s continual chase for atmosphere yields occasionally to trend. She’s made a place for herself where she stands alone, a throwback to Bobby Vinton, Nancy Sinatra, and Lulu without sounding like them.
Her concession to contemporary fashion on Lust for Life with a lineup of guests is interesting because Del Rey doesn’t make a habit of getting down with duets. On the title track, Del Rey’s dark beach ballad mood isn’t given any sunshine but her languid call and response with The Weeknd is haunting. Its effectiveness is its ability to shape images and entertain.
Although her music is locked into a style, it isn’t commercially driven – a hit might be an afterthought.
White Mustang is reflective of Del Rey’s soundtrack musical approach. It’s melodic and intimate but doesn’t reveal too much. The focus on mood and imagery gives her songs a dream-like undertow, and her passion for evocative sounds leads her into the area of nostalgia.
The mist of the past permeates her music: 13 Beaches, Groupie Love, Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind and When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing reference times that Del Rey translates in a blissed-out delivery. It’s an inspirational thing for her: Wuthering Heights meets Malibu.
–Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases in his column, Street Sounds, every Friday.