Lana Del Rey shows refinement and looks inward on ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club'
“[Chemtrails] takes a turn from the overly romanticized world that Del Rey typically sings about to a more subdued and personal take.”
After releasing Norman F***ing Rockwell! to widespread critical acclaim and nominations for Album of the Year at the 2020 Grammys, everyone wondered how Lana Del Rey could follow it. Chemtrails Over the Country Club is the sixth studio album of the baroque pop singer that takes a turn from the overly romanticized world that Del Rey typically sings about to a more subdued and personal take. Produced by frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff, Chemtrails is an intimate experience that produces candor musings and a breath of fresh air in Del Rey’s discography.
Each album Del Rey has put out until this point has been a reinvention of her sound and image. Chemtrails shows traces of reinvention, but anyone would be remiss to call this a full transition. Del Rey pulls inspiration from other albums - “Yosemite” was even slated to be on 2017’s Lust for Life.” Instead, Del Rey refines the sound she has spent over 10 years building. Even with no mention of the global pandemic that raged during the writing and recording process, Del Rey followed in the footsteps of Taylor Swift and Hayley Williams to produce an album that listens like an acoustic confessional.
Drawing back from her usual sweeping production, Antonoff backs her vocals with somber instrumentation to draw focus to her lyrics. Nostalgia for life before fame ebbs and flows throughout the opening track (and the album as a whole). “When I was a waitress wearing a tight dress handling the heat/ I wasn’t famous, just listening to Kings of Leon on the beat” Del Rey sings on “White Dress” as her voice cracks and strains. Her tendencies to glamorize the minutiae of everyday life have persisted on Chemtrails, but instead of longing for the coasts of California, inspiration was found in the American midwest; Songs like “Tulsa Jesus Freak” find Del Rey yearning for Arkansas.
Amid the controversies Del Rey found herself in throughout 2020, it seems she has found enough self-acceptance and happiness to sing that “Life is sweet or whatever, baby” on “Dark But Just a Game.” It also seems that she’s found passion and hope in music as she sings “Now I do it for fun, I do it for free, I do it for you, you do it for me” on “Yosemite.” While not her best album by any means, Chemtrails Over the Country Club gives fans a chance to look at the inner-working of Del Rey’s mind.
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