Lana Del Rey – “Chemtrails over the Country Club” Review
Once again stepping into the limelight, the reigning dream pop queen Lana Del Rey is back with another incredible and poetically masterful release.
Del Rey returns riding the high of her previous 2019 release “Norman F---ing Rockwell,” with her seventh studio album “Chemtrails over the Country Club.” While a less substantial release than “NFR,” “Chemtrails over the Country Club” still unquestionably embodies the mystifying aesthetic that both her critics and fans have widely praised and adored her for.
An artist who likely needs no introduction, Del Rey really hit her stride with her 2011 album “Born to Die,” which held the sensational hit “Summertime Sadness.” Rey has released hit after hit and even supplied the main theme “Young and Beautiful” for the 2013 “The Great Gatsby” film adaptation.
Her most recent previous release, “NFR,” was widely regarded as her strongest release yet, and for good reason. Del Rey masterfully honed her style and brought her sound to its peak. “Chemtrails over the Country Club,” although it pales in comparison to “NFR,” embodies a wistful country music aesthetic that Del Rey had never truly explored before.
Opening with the abrasive “White Dress,” Del Rey has a bit of a stumbling entry due to the track’s tightened vocals. Rey sings out an almost squeaky and rushed vocal, which creates an effect where the song becomes very hoarse.
Del Rey hits her groove and picks up the energy of the album through the title track. Sounding like her classic aesthetic, she implements her well-known imagery-invoking ability to create a scene of a pleasant afternoon with plane jet streams, chemtrails, painted across a clear blue midday sky.
The next track, “Tulsa Jesus Freak,” dips into the country aesthetic that Del Rey attempts to embody on this record. While initially it seems as if she is pulling up from the same well for her creative direction, Del Rey does implement some genre bending elements, such as the sizzling hiss that she incorporates, in order to lift the energy of the track.
Trading in her sharp, sinister underlayer that is often found in her music for a more lighthearted and tender feel, Del Rey seemingly departs from her shady noire aesthetic in order to embrace a brighter sound. This is evident on songs such as “Let Me Love You Like a Woman” and “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” Two very sincere and gentle tracks, these songs exemplify Del Rey’s softer side and showcase her capacity for being vulnerable.
However, there is one highlight on the album — the heavily country-infused “Breaking Up Slowly” — which particularly embodies that dark mood often present in Del Rey’s work. This track exhibits a heavy southern twang provided by Nikki Lane, which is blended with Del Rey’s gentle, fey vocals. Del Rey effectively crafts a haunting, smokey atmosphere that makes the song feel even colder than her work typically does.
The album comes to a satisfying end with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “For Free.” Accompanied by Zella Day and Weyes Blood, Del Rey provides the listener with an electrifying number as the album comes to a simmering close.
Overall, there is little differentiation from “NFR,” and the adjustments that are present do not offer much change or anything fresh to experience. “NFR” had brought together masterfully all of the elements of Del Rey’s sound and style with a memorable and effective direction.
It seems almost as if she has reached her peak and is now on a plateau or maybe even trending toward the down slope. Del Rey is evidently not a one-trick pony and yet she continues to showcase very little differentiation or variance in her sound between albums.
While the infusion of a country music aesthetic does break things up a bit, there is little innovation on this record. It feels like Del Rey is not challenging herself and has not really pushed things forward. Recently, Del Rey announced her next album “Rock Candy Sweet” is on the way. Hopefully on this upcoming release, Del Rey will push her sound further and attempt to push the bounds of her style beyond the comfort zone she often clings to.
Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “White Dress”
Scott Perdue is a senior majoring in secondary education. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Secondary Education
Scott Perdue is a student studying secondary education at Penn State University. He is passionate about voice and conversation mediums. He believes that music and film are an important form of communication and enjoys constructively criticizing an artist’s work.