On “Norman F-cking Rockwell,” Lana Del Rey Gives the Finger to Modern America

The forlorn singer paints an abstract picture with instant classics.

Cover of Lana Del Rey's new album, Norman Fucking Rockwell. (via Twitter)

“Norman F-cking Rockwell!” sees Lana Del Rey shed the catchy, upbeat pop choruses of her last album and instead opt to tell a classic love story that is reflective of the current state of U.S. culture.

With vocals that will make you feel like you’re floating on a cloud and production underpinned by familiar rhythm and blues and soft rock sounds, the album flows perfectly from beginning to end. It touches on familiar subjects like depression and womanhood, both common themes in the singer’s greater discography. This album’s structure recalls 2012’s “Born to Die,” yet is lyrically current, reminiscent of her most recent work, 2017’s “Lust for Life.” 

“Venice B-tch” appears early on the tracklist. This previously-released single is representative of the entire album’s sound and lyricism. “Venice B-tch” takes you straight to the beach as you listen to it, even if you’re standing on the Bowery ankle-deep in New York trash. The first half of the album is admittedly a lot more optimistic than the latter half, when Del Rey depicts her life in New York in all its grimy glory, “spilling her guts with the Bowery bums.” 

“hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it” may seem like a pretentiously long title for a popular artist, but it is one of the best songs on the album. Placed fittingly at the end, it brings to the fore key themes that the listener may have missed in other songs. Lana reacts to the problems the country is facing in regard to women’s rights. Reminiscent of “Lust for Life” track “God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It,” the joy she feels at being Norman’s girl seems to fade into the background at the end of the album.

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“Norman” decently recaptures the sound of more popular Lana Del Rey singles, but the singer also experiments subtly with storybook-style songwriting. Each track on the album maintains the same airy, laid-back vibe worthy of soundtracking sunlit afternoons in Washington Square Park. This album, like most of the singer’s discography, feels timeless feel even as it raises questions that are undeniably native to the current moment.

Email Destine Manson at [email protected]

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