Lana Del Rey releases “Norman F*****g Rockwell!,” her best album yet


Photo by Harmony Gerber

Lana Del Rey singing live at the 2017 Weenie Roast Festival in Carson, California.

For two years, Lana Del Rey fans have been waiting for any signs of new music from her after the release of her 2017 album, “Lust for Life.” Our wait was finally over on Aug. 30 when “Norman F*****g Rockwell!” (NFR!) dropped. I think the wait has been more than worth it.

The album shows Del Rey taking a different, and I think better, approach to songwriting; in many of her tracks, she doesn’t follow the traditional song structure. They flow in and out of verses without a real chorus to attach themselves to. It puts a real emphasis on her lyrics, which is smart because they are some of the best she has written.

This is particularly on display in her final track of the album “Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it.” It is written as a self-reflection or almost confessional that was put over simple piano chords.

“Writing in blood on the walls ‘cause the ink in my pen don’t work in my notepad,” is sung with only a piano playing in the background. It’s haunting, and she is able to make the entire song feel that way with essentially just her lyrics and her voice. This differs from her other albums like “Born to Die,” where there were heavy instrumentals behind each song. It’s a different style for her, and although she doesn’t maintain it on every song in the album, I’m definitely a fan of it.

Besides the singles she released ahead of the album, I think two of the most notable tracks are “Cinnamon Girl” and “Happiness is a butterfly.”

“Cinnamon Girl” has a clear and prominent chorus, where other songs on the album don’t. When your listening to the album from start to finish, it can be easy to let all of the songs melt together. However, “Cinnamon Girl” really stands out. It picks up the pace of the album by having a steady beat and being a “sing-along” type of song, because there surprisingly aren’t many of those on NFR!. It’s a refreshing addition to the album because it varies from the typical style.

Lana Del Rey is infamous for her sad songs and she has been deemed the “ultimate sad girl;” she even has a song called “Sad Girl” that people speculate was written to “own” this title. “Happiness is a butterfly” is a different take on her classic “sad song.” The song itself shouldn’t make you sad, it has happiness in the title, and the lyrics aren’t particularly dismal.

Her voice in the song has such a lightness that it almost sounds like she could cry. Although she’s singing about love, she sounds sad, as though the love she has been writing about is gone, which is what’s so heartbreaking about this song. I appreciate the subtlety of it because I think it’s more effective than making a traditionally “sad song.” The hidden components to it make it feel different than any other song of that genre; thus, it’s impressive that she was able to do that.

There’s too much in the album to pick apart and I think that’s what makes it so interesting and amazing. I highly recommend listening to NFR! from start to finish to get Lana Del Rey’s full vision, and it’s important to pay attention to the lyrics because they exhibit what I think is some of the best songwriting.