Complex, consistent and completely irresistible
Jessie Atkinson
20:25 19th March 2021

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I would bet that Lana Del Rey keeps a diary: it is often the people who do who are able to see the richness of their own life - and of being alive in its wider sense. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald before her, Lana Del Rey takes small, remembered details and imbues them with such romance and beauty as to leave a little of her lust for life on you, too.

The picture Lana paints of her worlds - both real and imagined - is complete within moments of pressing play on Chemtrails Over The Country Club: the world of Mustangs, cherry Cola, glistening swimming pools and madness that have made @lewbearbrown’s cheeky but loving TikToks so popular. Of course, the music Lana Del Rey actually makes is not something that can be so easily lampooned. This album proves that, demonstrating once again how complex, consistent and completely irresistible Lana is - and has been ever since the moment 'Video Games' dropped.

With that industry-dazzling debut song, Lana set a precedent. This was an artist - whether you loved her or hated her (and a peculiar amount of people did hate her, in the beginning) - impossible to ignore. But for a small lapse on Lust For Life, Lana's opening tracks have represented that seduction. With 2012’s Born To Die, the titular track opened for an industry-dazzling debut. A title track also lead the way on 2019’s Norman Fucking Rockwell!, an irresistible opener to one of the best albums of that year - and still the best record of Lana’s career to date. On Chemtrails Over The Country Club, ‘White Dress’ is the song ushering you into the beautiful, damned world of Lana Del Rey.

The longest statement on the album, ‘White Dress’ is immediately arresting thanks to the totally new timbre in which Lana is singing: she gives a hint of it at first and then dives completely in, using a whispered head voice that we have never heard before. From jump, shivering hi-hats and tentative keys build a mist of intrigue and nostalgic melancholy, exquisite production courtesy, once again, of Jack Antonoff. "Summer, sizzling, listening to/Jazz out on the lawn" she sings. The startling vignettes string on for 40 more minutes.

“I come from a small town, how about you?/ I only mention it 'cause I'm ready to leave L.A. and I want you to come” Lana sings coyly on ‘Let Me Love You Like A Woman’. She is an expert at writing one-sided dialogue like this, a technique that functions much like F. Scott Fitzgerald's evocative descriptions; the effect of being invited into a world of impossibly-romantic, in-the-moment nostalgia. “You should come back to our place, baby” she sings on ‘Tulsa Jesus Freak’. On the title track: “Baby, what’s your sign? My moon is in Leo my Cancer is sun.”

It's a technique that helps to make Chemtrails Over The Country Club the hypnotising triumph that it is.

Never one to stagnate, Lana tries new things with the sonic palette that swirls in the snow globe of Chemtrails Over The Country Club too. On ‘Dark But Just A Game’, a sultry bassline plumbs the depths of the song’s bittersweet approach to fame, while a tambourine keeps a sleepy beat. With 'Tulsa Jesus Freak', autotune runs quitely rampant - its glitches so subtle as to easily be missed. The entire effect is one of catching far-off music on the breeze: a hint of Latin nylon guitar on 'Yosemite'; the smallest taste of saxophone on 'Dance Till We Die'. 

“Honey, you make me feel like I’m invincible. It's just like I wanted” Lana sings on ‘Yosemite’, one of several standout tracks on Chemtrails Over The Country Club. It’s the kind of line that Rosemary Hoyt might deliver in Tender Is The Night: defiantly romantic, tragically beautiful, and penned by a true legend of American culture.

Chemtrails Over The Country Club is out now.

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