Lana Del Rey brings her Hollywood to our Harcourt Street on Lust for Life

Members of the Lana del Cult rejoice: your dark queen is back among you

Lana Del Rey performing in  Hull in May this year. Photograph: Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Lana Del Rey performing in Hull in May this year. Photograph: Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

 

Lust for Life

★★★★

Lana Del Rey paints a tragic romance in which we all try to find parallels in our own lives. She endlessly falls for the bad boy, who’s probably out on parole, but can find brief moments of peace to “dance on the H of the Hollywood sign”, as she sings on the title track with resident bad boy The Weeknd.

Our version? We send the fella from Athboy we’re shifting a string of emojis (eggplant – winky cat face – eggplant) at 5am, as our friends argue over who’s going to the Indian to buy after-hours wine. From her Hollywood hills to our Harcourt Street, she is tragic romance, whereas we are just tragic.

“You know, in this town, an artist really needs a lot of space when they’re trying to create something special. A place to cultivate a world of their own, far away from the real world that’s around them,” she cooed back in March, announcing the release of her fourth album Lust for Life in a black and white teaser video, like a darkened Samantha Stephens over scenes of the occult and 1950s wifely duties.

“So, even though these times can feel a little bit crazy, they’re not so very different from what other generations have experienced at one time or another before. Amidst all the uncertainty, and as we transition out of one era into another one, there’s no place I’d rather be than smack-dab in the middle of ‘Holly-weird’ making this record for you.”

With that, an announcement much more decorative than her “it’s coming you little bitch” tweet prior to the release of her short film Tropico in 2013, members of the Lana Del Cult could unglaze their eyes and breathe a sigh of relief.

Our relenting queen is back, less than a year after her Sunday headline slot in the pouring rain at Electric Picnic, which saw two off-duty Irish Times reporters (ahem) daring the on-duty reviewer to remain indifferent – something that in regular office situations would lead to a HR team being called in – because the love for Lana is an unyielding one.

Lust for Life toys with armoured femininity, using softness and winged eyeliner as a decoy. She may purr her way through her songs but make no mistake, she’s not one to undermine. “Who’s tougher than this bitch? Who’s freer than me?” she sings on In My Feelings, “You wanna make the switch, be my guest, baby. I’m feeling all my f**king feelings.”

Even though she is a New Yorker, Del Rey is pure California and Lust for Life finds her deconstructing the American dream. On the album cover, she’s a wholesome girl who’d do anything for her country but the background gunshots on God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women In It strip that pride away. “Is it the end of America?” she asks on When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing, finding hope in music when the world continues to crumble around us.

Unlike most pop stars, Del Rey sings about watching rather than being watched. She’s on the sidelines at Coachella - Woodstock in my Mind watching “your husband” perform, while worrying about children caught up in warfare (it’s a reach but she pulls it off).

On Groupie Love, lost in the crowd, she is the one who holds the power over the rockstar – played by her frequent collaborator A$AP Rocky – because Lana always comes with a powerful secret, like she’s just about to rob a bank with her baby or take down Congress. Stevie Nicks joins her on the quintessentially Lana Del Rey-titled Beautiful People Beautiful Problems, and the harmony between our two wanton heroines is pure witchcraft.

Lust for Life is joyous but in a Lana Del Rey way. She takes you down into the suffocating darkness with her but provides a glimmer of light, so subtle but so bright that it’s all encompassing. The album concludes with Get Free, where she packs it all in to be free and brings you along for the ride, whether your escape is from a shitty relationship, a dead-end job or plain old mundanity.

And as we drive off into the sunset on the M4 to leave it all behind, whizzing by Kilcock and later Tyrrellspass, praying that we have change for the toll, we find the parallels in her Topanga Canyon and Pacific Palisades and it helps to take the edge off.

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