A Honeymoon to remember, no wedding required

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Ana Erickson, Features Editor

 

To cap off the summer of 2015, Lana Del Rey released an album to play on the dwindling hot evenings.

Del Rey’s fourth LP, Honeymoon, laments the season’s end, along with plenty of other things. She’s the queen of “sad-core” for a reason.

The album’s 14 tracks touch on unrequited love, broken hearts, summer flings that didn’t end well and Lana’s trademark – obsession. She’s made rapturous, codependent relationships into an art, something you can live vicariously through without any of the emotional baggage.

Del Rey’s voice is like whiskey-flavored cotton candy; first it’s sweet, then there’s a bit of a burn, and then it has evaporated into thin air. She’s highly emotive without being corny or … yodelly. The lightness in her voice keeps it from being bogged down by her lovelorn lyrics.

The beats Del Rey sings over feel fresh and minimal, though they build throughout each song. She lays her own vocals over each other as a finishing touch.

Track “The Blackest Day,” for example, started as an airy guitar-aided tune finishes with thumping drums and Lana’s voice layered fivefold over the crescendo like a heavenly choir. Strings float through each song, giving an ethereal feeling.

Those anticipating the album wondered what would make it different from del Rey’s other albums. Her distinct style has a tendency to make all of her work sound the same. Well, to be honest, this album isn’t much different from Del Rey’s earlier work.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Her smoky storytelling, combined with her three-and-a-half octave vocal range, makes for a uniquely interesting album, even if it feels like the fourth volume in a series.

In fact, Honeymoon could be considered a sister album to its predecessor, Ultraviolence. Del Rey created a character for Ultraviolence that she said carries over into Honeymoon. If Ultraviolence was this character’s bitter Chicago winter, Honeymoon is her summer, spent in Italy.

This character is even more dangerous, sultry and self-destructive than regular old Lana. Like an expansion on “Carmen,” off of Del Rey’s Born to Die. She longs to “die by the hand of a foreign man” (“Salvatore”). She’s been “sent to destroy” (“Music To Watch Boys To”). She’s there to break hearts to forget about her own being broken.

Despite the heavier characterization on songs like “Salvatore,” Honeymoon feels, in places, a touch more personal than Ultraviolence. On “24,” Del Rey sings about her man who lies around the clock in a way that is unmistakably real.

She covers Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” pleading to a lover for reprieve, again, painfully specifically. It’s as if del Rey uses her character to flesh out her emotions.

Del Rey curated a new, full-fledged aesthetic for the album. It started with the video for “High by the Beach,” which features Lana in a thin, white sundress shooting an enormous gun. She’s pure lightness soaked in grit, which mirrors the balance of hard and soft in her songs.

The concepts in Honeymoon come together to make a late-summer album that glitters in the dark. This may not be a whole new era for Lana, but the album is still an intriguing development of her creative process.