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Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Roswell - 2LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €33.95

Del Rey goes back to her well of swooning melodies, twanging guitars, Twin Peaks-ish Americana and cinematic ballads about women in love with ne’er-do-wells.
We live in a world of terrifying flux and instability, where any consideration of what might happen next comes with a side order of blind terror. If you were looking to understand the appeal of Lana Del Rey, eight years and five albums since her commercial breakthrough, you might alight on the fact that she offers a certain respite from uncertainty. You put her albums on and know more or less exactly what will happen next. There will be ballads decorated with cinematic orchestration. Guitars will twang and electronics will waft and surge in a manner that evokes Angelo Badalementi’s soundtrack to Twin Peaks, and her voice will be swathed in reverb in a manner that evokes Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star. The vocals will have a dead-eyed quality at odds with the yearning ache of the lyrics, in which girls will simper after brooding n’er-do-wells they invariably address as “baby”. A world will be conjured in which every woman is a weak, willing victim and every man an unmitigated tosser and dark intimations of sexual exploitation and violence will co-exist with a kind of 80s Athena poster version of dangerous masculinity: whatever the song, she will invariably sound like she’s singing to a monochrome Matt Dillon lookalike in a white vest, carrying a truck tyre against a desert backdrop, a cigarette dangling from his bruised lips.

Naysayers quibble that essentially making the same album over and over again represents a failure of imagination: Del Rey wasn’t joking when she admitted she had “already said everything I wanted to say” after the release of her debut album in 2012. To her fans, however, she is the musical equivalent of a genre fiction novelist or short story writer whose work concentrates in one area. After all, no one ever complained that Raymond Chandler kept wanging on about seedy private eyes and bitchy platinum blondes.

Norman Fucking Rockwell! offers evidence for the prosecution and the defence. The formula is intact. Everything proceeds at a glacial pace, strings swell cinematically, guitars twang Twin Peaks-ishly; Del Rey and producer Jack Antonoff put the studio’s reverb unit through its paces, and we once more find ourselves in the presence of ladies saying things like, “I’ll make you real proud of your baby” and “If you hold me without hurting me you’ll be the first who ever did” to a new selection of unmitigated tossers: callous drug addicts, fly-by-nights, abusers, self-absorbed musicians, etc. “John met me by the training yard / Cuts on his face ’cause he fought too hard,” she sings on How to Disappear. “I love that man like no other,” she adds. You don’t say.

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