Final Rating: 8.4/10
Remember when Lana Del Rey proclaimed that she would love her significant other until the end of time? This was when her album Born to Die was tugged back and forth between optimists and pessimists. People fought to push her to the forefront when they felt her debut album as Del Rey was a bit subpar, and others fought to prove she was solely an image. Last year, Ultraviolence proved that Del Rey’s fascination with black and white Hollywood shots could be brought to life. She claimed to already be working on new material akin to what Born to Die was like. The last time she readied an album right away, it ended up being the Paradise EP that got slapped onto Born to Die and was proud of tasting like soda pop in questionable areas. This seemed like dodgy news, especially after such a great album like Ultraviolence.
Honeymoon is the album Lana Del Rey has been trying to make her entire life. She performed as an indie musician, came out with a superstar identity with all of the filters in the world and she put up with all of the ridicule she could. Ultraviolence was great, but it also felt heavily influenced by those that worked on the album like Dan Auerbach. While Born to Die felt like a Del Rey product, it was heavily over produced to the point of tasting like rubber. Honeymoon is very much Del Rey’s design through and through, but this album smells of citrus, flowers and champagne. It is very rich and full of juices. You can sink your teeth into that lush production! Her music is still highly cinematic, but it no longer feels completely over dramatic; Ultraviolence used melodrama to it’s advantage, but Del Rey seems more fond of toning it down now.
Every song is taken from some imaginary film Del Rey has crafted in her mind. Although she stars in it, she is shoved very far back on her album cover. She is no longer in your face. While some lyrics are still a bit strange (the use of icecream to create a temptation), they still feel gently personal. Honeymoon is great, because it’s as emotional as she has always wanted her music to be, but she knows how to get away with it now. These silly moments are done tastefully to remind us that Del Rey is still human and not seemingly above her real identity. She proves this further with the usual inclusions of her loves. She’s sung about Lou Reed before, but here we get a huge palette. She wails about hearing nothing but Billy Holiday, putting on Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay and more. The biggest tribute sans any covers she has ever done is when she channels David Bowie by begging for Major Tom’s response in Terrence Loves You. It feels honest and well fitting. The old Lana may have plopped this homage on top of the song, but she knows much better now.
Burnt Norton is one of the biggest surprises here. It almost sounds like a Oneohtrix Point Never track with a Diana Ross-esque monologue to make sense of the ambient anxiety. It is a centerpoint that might capture Del Rey’s fighting personalities the best. That is until you hear the album defining The Blackest Day, which is also easily up there as being one of her strongest songs. This bittersweet audible heartbreak is as ambitious as Video Games but with the experience to go from being a girl appreciating love to being a woman who can seize the nightmare herself. Del Rey has certainly matured, and she has gained confidence through the media backlashes she has had to endure.
Aside from these examples, there are at least one or two moments per song that will yank you. The romantic stairway of sung notes in the verses of Salvatore, the projected yelps she tosses from her bed in Freak, the climactic darkness that booms at the end of Honeymoon and more. Each song reeks of love, but they are written with angry eyes and a clenched fist. Del Rey is sneakily livid, and she has never channeled film noir better than she has here. She lures you better than before, but you will discover that you’ve been seduced by a femme fatale capable of ruining lives. Some songs even loom with death despite Del Rey never explicitly mentioning it.
The best part about Honeymoon is how noticeable the doubt has subsided around her. She finally released the album she’s deviously dreamed of, and she snuck it jn our existences no matter how we felt. She claims she’ll never sjng again in Swan Song, and she’s done enough in her career to make this a scary thought. After such a gracefully dark album, it’s a tragedy to think about. However, she wraps things up with a cover of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood. It fits like a credit roll at the end of her movie, and it is full of dirty looks and pride. It sounds like she knew the album would work and she is telling off those who have ever doubted her. Her Honeymoon is between her and her music, and we merely witnessed it and longed to go with. Nonetheless, Honeymoon is Lana Del Rey’s way of telling the world off with what she set off to do. It’s quite a powerful punch, and her longtime fans couldn’t be more proud.