Following an absent 2016, the self-confessed ‘sad girl’ and atmosphere queen Lana Del Rey has quietly returned to the music scene with her new single, titled “Love”, anticipating the arrival of her forthcoming fifth studio album.
Following 2015’s dream pop chronicle Honeymoon, Del Rey has kept a relatively low existence, concentrating instead on her European tour, and making a small but memorable appearance on the Weeknd’s album Starboy. In a press release accompanying the release of “Love”, Del Rey was quoted saying that her new album will be “for my fans, and about where I hope we are all headed”. Listening to “Love”, Del Rey’s intentions seem startling and impressively clear.
On the surface, “Love” isn’t that much of a departure for Del Rey: the same youthful, romantic and aesthetically pleasing protagonists are still lurking around in their vintage flannel. However, now Del Rey is the onlooker, a wise saintly figure watching over the next generation, as the artwork suggests. After years of discussing adolescence from the midst of the cool crowd, Del Rey is now looking at youth from the other side of the abandoned car park. The shades of political dissatisfaction that have recently crowded her social media presence have crept into her work too; her kids have “seen so much, you could get the blues” she sings, shaking her head and sighing.
There’s a gritty realism to “Love” that’s been missing from her previous work. An almost Springsteen-esque attitude is what her younger generation have now adopted, she argues; kids who dress up “to go nowhere in particular”, and then diligently return to their work at “the coffee shop”. Musical cues cleverly reference 2012’s Born To Die, citing familiar territory, yet never truly return to that wild and destructive period. The music, lush and ethereal as always, is sharper, more finely-tuned, suggesting longing and restlessness in a post-Trump American Dream.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m not enough/For the future or the things to come” Del Rey sings on the outset. Purposefully or not, “Love” is the millennial anthem of the moment.
Photo by Beatriz Alvani