2019’s Norman F*cking Rockwell saw Lana Del Rey shining at a high peak, and she continues to stay on a steady balance with her newest release Chemtrails Over The Country Club. The array of melodic – chamber pop like is what you’d expect from someone with the kind of artistry of Lana Del Ray; although on her new album she takes new direction working with sounds, particularly string instruments, more prevalent in country and folk. Bringing along Jack Antonoff is only one of the many reasons this unique direction for Lana Del Rey who continues to weave, in vibrant consistency, the themes around the idea right and wrong duality.
The dreamy reverb/autotune heavy overlays still run through the bulk of Chemtrails Over The Country Club, but it isn’t just there to be there; her range shifts from the unconventional acoustic realism to the uproarious synths, which is what keeps it in this realm all its own. Some of the new musical techniques/directions are reminiscent of her early Americana era, except it immerses the listener in the mood more fluidly.
The opening track “White Dress,” opens delicately strummed as it brings forth the intro to the theme surrounding duality. In this case it is between fame-idealism and reality, along with the spacey overtones accompanying intimate piano keys. Her vocalization is lush with this raspy whisper that relays this emotion of someone who lost her innocence.
Lana Del Rey has this way of making these sounds her own, despite those minimal moments where you start to question, why did they do this on the production. Like on “Let Me Love You Like A Woman,” which is mundane in its own way, but the pedal effect in the chorus takes it to another level because it feels just there without reason. The mundane continues modestly in pieces here and there, like “Yosemite,” which Lana makes beautifully cinematic with her vocals. Regardless of some boring moments in the production, like on “Yosemite”, there is this dynamic cohesion in the way she structures the songs amongst the theme.
There are many consistent – great moments, where the theme glows within the subtleties of the tracks, like on “Tulsa Jesus Freak,” where Lana Del Rey talks about the strength taken to fight right and wrong with her lover, all basing itself on one’s commitment to the bible. She slowly reminds him to never forget his convictions, despite the mood she conveys as a woman. It’s soft spoken and the delivery shows how you can’t control the consequences, which she mentions in a moment where the wind blows on her skirt that creates a “nostalgic” image of the charm seen by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.
As Chemtrails continues its path of self worth and idealistic complications, Lana Del Rey starts to work her voice around the authenticity of her emotions and the instrumentals around, slowly easing her reliance on the autotune; for example “Tulsa Jesus Freak.” This consistency starts at “Wild At Heart,” and “Dark But Just A Game” where they create an effervescent sonic theme from dark acoustic strings. It’s on the second half of the album where she continues to portray her innocence in an altered reality, where life was normalized with friends and familial love around. The reality she sees herself in, is one where a life of decadence is broken despite generalized perceptions.
We’ve heard similar perceptions from her in the past, but Chemtrails takes it and weaves the distraction for her as she keeps reminiscing about a ranch through most of these tracks. “Dance Till We Die,” takes us to the ranch, as Lana delivers an emotionally gripping ballad. She takes an interesting approach with the switch of the strings in the bridge, where the soft spoken melancholy turns into this modern alternative-twang reminiscent of rock from the 60s. It’s a thing of pure beauty and one of the two standouts alongside “White Dress.”
Chemtrails Over The Country Club shows the continuous growth Lana Del Rey has gone through since Video Games, allowing herself to evolve the textures that made her standout amongst the many pop artists today. It’s a solid record of intimate and lush production that will hit the ear drums with beautiful streaks of notes and songwriting mixing as one.