On March 19, 2021, singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey released her eighth studio album “Chemtrails Over the Country Club.” The album features Lana’s staple elegant, poetry-like lyricism of past works, singing about the complications and emotions behind aspects such as love and relationships. The album also marks another solid release that plays to Lana’s strengths.
Since her career began in the early 2010’s, Lana has established herself as somewhat of an “anti-pop” pop star. In this, Lana’s music is much more melancholic and subdued compared to the energetic pop pieces of other artists throughout the past decade and current era. Her soft vocal performances are usually more prominent than her instrumentals, even if the instrumentals are sensational, as well.
Nevertheless, Lana’s still gained plenty of recognition for her past works. “Norman F****** Rockwell,” Lana’s sixth studio record released in 2019, was particularly well-received, focusing on more rock instrumentals while ironically criticizing American culture. Along with being the album that piqued my interest in Lana’s music, it was nominated for an “Album of the Year” Grammy, along with being ranked the twelfth best album on popular music discussion board Rate Your Music.
Upfront, Lana’s newest album is certainly consistent. Lana’s singing is of high quality, once again complimented by softer instrumentals. Unfortunately, the only vocally questionable track is the opener “White Dress.” In this tract, Lana sounds as if she is running out of breath, along with using a strange falsetto-esq sound for the chorus. Oddly enough, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” later in the album has Lana singing in a similar manner, only much more consistent in intonation.
The title track, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” feels much more like a proper album opener, along with perhaps being the album’s overall highpoint. The triplet rhythm used both in instrumentals and the vocals create a dream-like feel. In addition, gradually adding subtle instrumentals throughout the track provides great pacing. Ending with only drums repeating the triplet pattern creates a vibe of reflection for the listener, with minimal sounds besides the drums and their own thoughts.
The aforementioned “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” features a similar ending, only utilizing a guitar ensemble. As great as Lana’s singing is, the instrumental solos are certainly fantastically done, as well.
One interesting aspect to Lana’s singing is her use of subtle volume increases and decreases. These differences add depth to the music without removing Lana’s signature soft tones. “Let Me Love You Like a Woman,” one of the album’s main singles, uses these differences perfectly. I also enjoyed how this track and “Tulsa Jesus Freak” had Lana sing harmonizing lines during the more expressive moments.
“Wild At Heart” is another highlight for the album. The classic rock sounds from the 2019 album return in this track, along with some of my favorite vocal melodies in this current album.
While Lana’s lyrics are generally melancholic, “Dark But Just A Game” marks a darker sound musically. The shift between darker guitar sounds in the verses to gradually lighter sounds throughout the chorus was a very interesting structure musically. “Yosemite” carries a similar tone, while incorporating an almost spaghetti western style guitar and bongo backing.
“Breaking Up Slowly” is an interesting song lyrically. Lines such as “it’s hard to be lonely, but it’s the right thing to do,” display the mature mindset of a romantically burdened individual. Nikki Lane’s rugged country voice also adds a nice contrast to Lana’s vocals.
In contrast, “Dance Til We Die” shows Lana’s confidence with her most expressive vocals of the album. The midsong breakdown also brings back rock sounds, along with adding blues elements with saxophone and piano sounds. Soft sounds transitioning to confident rock sounds once again shows Lana’s prime understanding of pacing and buildup within her music.
The final track “For Free” has Lana describing a scene at her local town over a piano backing. It is a pleasant sounding track, working well as a closer by reinstating the album’s theme of recollection.
“Chemtrails Over the Country Club” is a solid album with no exceptional highs or bizarre lows. In a mostly high energy music environment, it is nice to have a more mellow sound which focuses on subtle musical quirks. As a newer Lana fan, I look forward to her continuing her consistently-quality re