Enigmatic is perhaps the most appropriate word to surmise the career and persona of Elizabeth Grant. Today ‘Honeymoon’ is released and instantly feels to be an extension of ‘Paradise’ a repackaged edition of ‘Born to Die’ released in 2012. From its lavish title track opener, Del Rey often indulges within her own sonic spaces allowing them time to expand and breath as they beckon the listener into her hazy, melodramatic moods.
Preview single ‘Music to Watch Boys To’ has an equal tone of mystery as Del Rey’s vocals layer upon one and other as an arcadian string quartet drifts beneath its surface. There is more quiet anthem demonstrated on this album, the bombast and grandeur of ‘Born to Die’ has been cast aside in place of pillow-esque ditties with equally brooding outcome. ‘God Knows I Tried’ an ode to this album’s predecessor as she describes the perils of fame, the dangers of becoming obsessed and enthralled in the scene and the sheer amount of effort she offered up to the project in jazz hymnal facade.
‘Freak’ incorporates dark trip hop beats during a chorus juxtaposing the silky, sultry verses as Lana beckons the outsiders to California with further images of 80s rock heroes, late night intimacy and Del Rey’s distorted American dream . Although some believe the persona of this ambiguous performer to be laboured, there is a consistency in lyrical matter as she discusses soft ice cream during ‘Salvatore’ paying homage to ‘Carmen’ and a clear passion and jurisdiction to this neo-Nancy Sinattra exterior she has created for herself. A positive is that unlike artists who create alter-ego to only become lost within its complex conceptuality, Lana always seems intent on the music she is creating and never allows her exterior to affect decisions regarding sound or lyrics, her persona only ever compliments.
‘Art Deco’ is a track the fans of ‘Born to Die’ have been waiting over three years for as sweeping choruses are punctuated by pulsating snare drum in a pace reminiscent of ‘Blues Jeans’ in a track designed to soundtrack the golden years of 1920s New York City. As ‘Ultraviolence’ relied heavily on theatrical principles including character, prop and mise en scène this album feels far more personable and although it has equal, if not added melodrama including Lana’s monologue ‘Burnt Notion’ at its core it comes from a truer place. The cover of ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ by Nina Simone even fits onto this record with a sense of authenticity. Despite its fourteen track length, you find yourself held to attention by Lana’s final ethereal note as any good performer beneath a spotlight holds their audience.
In a world of manufactured and faceless pop starlets, it should be a celebrated that a singer/songwriter is attempting to personify the Film Noir femme fatale that directors such as Lynch and Miller designed to sneer against the conventions of Western culture and inevitably topple the system, stand atop and remain otherworldly elegant whilst doing so. Our proud protagonist is at her most masterful during ‘Terrence Loves You’ as she samples space shuttle dialogue in bountiful balladic manner whilst ’24’ she allows galloping percussion and orchestral arrangement to flow and swell against her own relatively unaffected vocal. ‘High By the Beach’ is a pastiche in itself as Del Rey exists most in self indulgence and as she takes the heavy loaded weapon and shoots a helicopter straight out of the sky it is one of the most visceral visual metaphors that Lana plays to her conventions and within this demonstrates bravery, integrity, sophistication and glamour.
Honeymoon is released in the UK on September 18 through UMG Recordings