By Chloe Colmenares
Social Media Editor
The Americana pop queen Lana Del Rey’s seventh studio album, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” strips back much of the instrumentals usually present in her music. Focusing mainly on Lana’s vocals, the album unfortunately does not have much of the character her music usually holds.
For those looking for a record as bold and punchy as her last album, “Norman F***ing Rockwell!,” you will likely be unimpressed.
Lana has carved a niche in the pop realm. She blends Americana nostalgia with melancholic lines about love and fame that feel like you are watching her songs play out on grainy old film. She has been a powerhouse name with a soft but rich voice for just under a decade after the release of her single “Video Games,” in 2011.
In her latest album, Lana gives us more of what we always expect from her, for good and for bad. Although this record is noticeably more intimate and personal, the loss of instrumentals and repetitive subject matter make for an underwhelming 45 minutes.
The album opens with the song “White Dress,” in which Lana yearns for a simpler time before fame. Her vocals are more breathy and strained in this track, giving the impression that she is almost on the brink of tears thinking about these memories.
The next song, the title track “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” does a great job of emphasizing how the singer pines for earlier days. The song begins with Lana’s smooth and sultry voice accompanied by a quiet piano, but as it continues, it seamlessly adds more layers of her vocals into a dream-like symphony. It is one of the best tracks on the album.
“Tulsa Jesus Freak,” the third track, is the most Lana-esque song on the album. It has a soft and sexy sound, but is imbued with sadness. Throughout the song, she repeats the lyrics “We’ll be white hot forever,” harkening back to the original title for the album before it was changed. This change was announced via an Instagram post on May 25, 2020.
Lana also uses autotune in “Tulsa,” which sonically separates this song from the rest on the album. Her voice does not require the use of autotune, so its implementation is purposeful on Lana’s part. However the reason for this stylistic choice is hard to grasp and feels out of place on an album leaning on a ’50s Americana vibe.
For fans of her last album, the fifth track “Wild at Heart” samples elements from “How to Disappear” and “Love Song.” This track is another standout on the album, making me yearn for the instrumental ingenuity and lyrical prowess of her previous album.
Other songs like “Yosemite” and “Breaking Up Slowly” are strong additions to Lana’s discography, but, again, do not tread new ground. The continued rose-tinted view of 1950s America seems trite and unsympathetic when viewed in the context of the current social climate.
The release of her highly controversial “Question for the culture” Instagram post back in May 2020 further threw her perspective into question: In that infamous post, she chastised her fellow female stars such as Doja Cat, Cardi B, and Nicki Minaj for singing about “being sexy, wearing no clothes, f***king, cheating, etc” in their music.
She goes on to say that “there has to be a place in feminism for people who look and act like me.” Her entire statement came off as tone deaf and misunderstanding of modern-day feminism, and taints the listening experience of this album.
The album is Lana at her most honest, but this honesty does not always translate into engaging music. There are strong additions to this album, but they pale in comparison to her past works.
“Chemtrails Over the Country Club” is available on all major streaming platforms.
Art by Chloe Colmenares. Photo courtesy of Pitchfork.com