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Album Review

Lana Del Rey is smiling on the cover of her fourth major-label release, Lust for Life. And while there is indeed some lust on this effort, for the first time in her career, Del Rey genuinely seems interested in living, too.

The 32-year-old singer has built her controversial career on grim, gothic lyrics often romanticizing death and despair. She's paired those themes with her breathy voice and hypnotically retro, cinematically synthesized sounds that recall some bygone musical era.

Del Rey's signature sound remains very much intact on this dreamy, meandering, 16-song, 72-minute opus. But the smile Del Rey sports on the cover hints at someone who is perhaps beginning to grow weary of her numbed and previously nihilistic perspective on life.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

"Love" says that even though the challenges that young people today face are "enough just to make you go crazy," the presence of love in their lives makes things bearable: "Doesn't matter 'cause it's enough/To be young and in love." The title track, despite some significant problems I'll note below, says that it's better to be "having too much fun" than to "die young."

"13 Beaches" acknowledges the lingering pain of a breakup ("It hurts to love you"), but finds a woman longing for authenticity in her life: "I've been dying/For something real." On "Cherry," she sings, "I said real love, it's like feeling no fear/When you're standing in the face of danger."

"Groupie Love," about a star-struck, slightly stalkerish young woman who's convinced an established musician truly loves her, isn't a positive song. But it seems Del Rey intends it as a cautionary tale about someone who's lost touch with reality as she's embraced a fantasy about her rock-star crush.

"In My Feelings" finds Del Rey struggling to honestly express hard emotions amid a dysfunctional relationship: "Sobbin' in my cup of coffee/'Cause I fell for another loser." To her credit, she eventually resolves, "Gotta leave right now."

"Coachella - Woodstock in My Mind" worries about rising political tensions ("They put out the warning/Tensions were rising over country lines"). It perhaps voices concern for the fate of young and old alike when innocents are swept up into conflict ("'Cause what about all these children/And what about all their parents"). Del Rey earnestly sings about hoping to be someone who, in her own poetically whimsical way, brings people hope: "Maybe my contribution/Could be as small as hoping/That words could turn into birds and birds would send my thoughts your way." Surprisingly, she also muses about what she'd ask God: "A stairway, stairway to heaven/ … Got a million things I wanna say/Like, 'What is it all for? Will it be OK?'"

"God Bless America - And All the Beautiful Women in It" offers a blessing for our country and its women, with Del Rey singing, "May you/Stand proud and strong/Like Lady Liberty shining all night long." "When the World Was at War and We Kept Dancing" wonders, "Is this the end of an era?/Is it the end of America?" Del Rey answers, saying, "No, it's only the beginning/If we hold onto hope/We'll have a happy ending." She also suggests that's what happened during World War II: "We just kept dancing/When the world was at war before."

"Heroin" makes some vague references to that drug, but Del Rey doesn't glorify it. Instead, she sings, "Something 'bout the city/ … Makes me feel like I can change/All of my evil ways." The song concludes, "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sick of it."

The final two songs, "Change" and "Get Free" express still more surprisingly earnest desires. On the former, Del Rey admits her compassion fatigue ("Lately, I've been thinking it's just someone else's job to care"), before mustering up the willpower to be a positive change-agent herself ("Change is a powerful thing/People are powerful beings/Trying to find the power in me to be faithful"). On the latter, Del Rey sings of mental struggles ("Sometimes it feels like I've got a war in my mind") and taking responsibility for herself ("I never really noticed that I had to decide/To play someone's game or to live my own life"). She sings, "I want to move/Out of the black/Into the blue"—which, for Lana Del Rey, represents forward progress.

Objectionable Content

For all that forward progress, though, there are still some significant issues here. Six songs include profanities, including multiple uses of the f- and s-words, "b--ch" "d--n" and misuses of God's name. And guest rapper A$AP Rocky (who appears on two tracks) uses the slur "n-gga" as well.

On "Lust for Life," the living in question involves a woman climbing the fabled Hollywood sign, then repeatedly instructing her lover, "Take off, take off/Take off all your clothes." Similarly, "Cherry" uses a blend of spiritual and sexual allusions to describe what "real love" consists of: "It's like heaven taking the place of something evil/And lettin' it burn off from the rush." We also hear this odd, fruit-and-alcohol filled description of a man's destructive influence on his besotted partner: "I fall to pieces when I'm with you …/My cherries and wine, rosemary and thyme/And all of my peaches (are ruined)." We hear another possibly suggestive reference to "dripping peaches" in "13 Beaches."

"Groupie Love" references a woman's belief that her sexual escapades with a rock star mean she can read his mind too: "And every time we hook up/I know what you're thinking of." "In My Feelings" describes a woman crying while having an orgasm. And "White Mustang" is full of sexual double entendres about another woman's affair with a famous musician.

"Summer Bummer," about a woman regretting the end of a casual summer fling, also features explicit lyrics from guest rapper A$AP Rocky, as well as his nod to mingling sex and drugs ("She might just become my lover for real/ … Take the whip, two pills on the lips on the real"). Another line, "White lines and black beaches," could also be an allusion to cocaine.

Summary Advisory

Lana Del Rey's latest is hardly problem free. Harsh profanity and suggestive lyrics mar plenty of songs on Lust for Life. If Taylor Swift had dropped this album, we'd be aghast.

That said, Lana Del Rey is no Taylor Swift.

Up to this point in her career, soul-numbing sex, drugs and flirtations with suicide have been frequent topics in her music. There are still sensual indulges here (including a song about shedding clothes on the Hollywood sign … not a good idea). But Lust for Life finds Lana Del Rey longing for something more than empty hedonism.

And for that she deserves credit, even if we can't recommend this album as a whole.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Debuted at No. 1.

Record Label

Interscope

Platform

Publisher

Released

July 21, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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