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Love, Lust and Drugs By: Kiden-Aloyse Smith

Lana Del Rey’s sixth studio album, “Norman _______ Rockwell!”(“NFR!”) is unlike her past albums, from the cover to the attitude. In all of Del Rey’s albums, she takes musical inspiration from different decades. “Honeymoon” has the orchestral melodies of old Hollywood glamour and “Lust For Life,” has odes to the hippie days of the 60s and 70s, featuring famous musicians of those time periods, such as Stevie Nicks. In “NFR!” there’s no pinpointed decade theme, and she’s accompanied by a male counterpart on the album cover, different than her solo album covers. This 14-track album alludes to the overall themes of this album: love, lust and drugs.

Art by: Audrey Blaine

“Norman ______ Rockwell”

The opening song features a signature Lana del Rey sound with melodic piano, airy vocals and high pitched runs. In “Norman _______ Rockwell,” she introduces the unnamed man, whom she talks about throughout this album in a bright happy tone. I love this song. From the deep, dream-like vocals to the lyrics, it’s clear Del Rey knew exactly what she was doing when she opened up with this song.

“Mariners Apartment Complex”

Released in September 2018 as a single teaser for her album. Lyrically, “Mariners Apartment Complex” has a different energy than past Del Rey songs. Previously she’d sing about being under the control of a man, comparing their toxic love to a drug addiction. However, in “Mariners Apartment Complex,” Del Rey takes control in her love life, career and herself as a whole. I like the message because Del Rey is gaining confidence. However, sonically, this sounds slow which makes the lyrics hard to follow and an easy skip on my Spotify.

“Venice _____”

The longest song of this album, timing at 9 minutes, 37 seconds, is my personal favorite, this song was the second single released in September 2018 for “NFR!.” This psychedelic song follows Del Rey in a moment of nostalgia with a relationship. It’s what made me excited about the album, sounding similar to the songs that would be in “Lust for Life.” This song has many layers, as a song of this length should. Going back to her roots of pop culture references, Del Rey exhibits her inner woman. In Del Rey songs, she momentarily describes herself and this was the song for that She’s alluring and she wants everyone to know that. “Venice _____” is an important song on this album because she separates herself from a ‘damsel in distress’ trope she plays in this album. She describes herself as powerful, unique and that’s why her men always stay with her. There’s no one like Lana Del Rey, there never will be, and she lets the listeners know.

“____ it I love you”

One of the more upbeat and higher-octave songs of her album, this song is all about Del Rey finally admitting her love after trying to deny it. After expressing that her attraction to him was purely lust based, Del Rey comes to the realization that she is in love and she isn’t afraid to show it. This song takes a different approach. Her songs tend to be depressing and honestly if I listen to Del Rey for long enough, I’ll feel sad about a relationship I was never in. However, this song is upbeat and gives listeners a break.

“Love song”

In this song Del Rey expresses her moments of bliss with the man she loves. Usually, she compares her love to drugs, however, there is no mention of drug use, possibly suggesting she is finally happy with the man she loves, “Baby, it’s the best, passed the test and yes, now I’m here with you,” I like this song, however, it’s bittersweet. I know that for Del Rey this is only a moment of happiness and it’ll go right back to being depressing. The man she is talking about is toxic for her, but she still loves him. It’s like warning a friend to stay away from someone and then watching them get played. It’s a cycle and I wish she would break away from it.

“How to disappear”

In “How to disappear,'' Del Rey possibly reveals the identity of these men, John and Joe. Both of which, aren’t good for her because the men choose drugs over her. Toward the end of the song, some time has passed between these affairs, and Del Rey appears to have moved on but says whenever the men want to be back in her life she will let them. “I'm always going to be right here, No one's going anywhere.” This song is important to the album because Del Rey finally admits these men aren’t good for her, but at this point, I got tired of hearing about these men and the fact that she never learns her lesson. Sorry Lana.

“Happiness is a butterfly”

This song is extremely depressing. She realizes that her moment of bliss was momentary and her relationship is falling apart. Del Rey compares happiness to a butterfly and that you can get so close, it's in your hands, but it’ll fly away. I thought this was a great comparison. Although sad, it’s true, at least for Del Rey. Relationships eventually come to a close, whether it be in a messy way or a drift apart. Del Rey exhibits exactly what that is like.

“hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have- but i have it”

This single was released in January 2019. She ends the album with another heart-rendering tone, making references to Poet, Slyvia Plath, who committed sucicide. “24/7 Sylvia Plath/They write that I’m happy, they know that I’m not.” Del Rey is expressing that she’s depressed, stuck in a rut, and having hope will always bring her to the same spot. This hope could be for her love life or her image. I think this was a great way to end the album.While reading through the lyrics, I was filled with sadness and I think that’s exactly what Del Rey wanted the listeners to feel. References to Slyvia Plath made the song hit home because Plath wrote poems that were often morbid. I think this song is relatable in a way especially for those going through depression, because that’s exactly what it feels like. Her happiness was only temporary in this album.

“NFR!” was different from most of Del Rey’s albums. Sonically, this album wasn’t very creative and sounds the same as the rest of her songs, but lyrically it was genuis through the story she told. It was smart to start the album off happy and end it soul-crushingly sad because overall, it’s about more than love. It’s about self-image, depression and everything in between. I’m a die-hard Lana Del Rey fan and before I took a look at the lyrics, the album was under-whelming. Not to lie, I was disappointed when I got to track five and realized there were more tracks, but once I took a closer look, she earned a 10/10. Thank you, Lana, because I will now be having a sad girl Autumn.es