“Norman F***ing Rockwell” by Lana del Rey
By Peter Nomeland
Lana Del Rey has always been an enigma. In an age when most pop stars go for the next big, loud song that will explode to the top of the charts, New York-raised Del Rey has made a career out of moody, introspective ballads. While her music is clearly inspired by the sounds of the 50s and 60s Americana, she has also become a favorite collaborator of hip-hop heavyweights, including The Weeknd and A$AP Rocky. As a result, Del Rey has emerged as one of the most compelling and versatile musicians working today.
On her latest release, “Norman F***ing Rockwell,” Lana appears to have found a balance of all her musical influences. Her trademarks of heartbreak and relationships remain, with her songwriting as strong as ever. But her influences become clear on the opening title track, where she references Laurel Canyon, the old Hollywood neighborhood which was home to Leonard Cohen and Jim Morrison among others. Accompanied by some of the best production and instrumentation of her career, “Norman F***ing Rockwell” is the most realized project Del Rey has released since her 2012 debut album “Born to Die”.
Whether it's the subdued piano and acoustic guitar-backed “Mariners Apartment Complex” or the nine-minute opus “Venice Bitch”, in which she goes in-depth on her relationship with a tortured artist, it is clear that Lana is comfortable in her musical prowess and is unafraid to be herself and continue to push boundaries, which should extend to next year in her follow-up.