Going into this album, I had no expectations. I wasn’t really a fan of Lana Del Rey, nor did I really get the hype around her, especially on her song Summertime Sadness. Although I don’t really know Rey’s music, I do realize that she doesn’t just create music; she creates an essence. She sometimes creates aesthetically pleasing art. Although I think some of her music is pretty and nice, I genuinely think her music is for those with an acquired taste.
The first song and title track “Norman F*****g Rockwell” sets up a dreamy tone, which will play out for the rest of her album. The song actually makes me reminisce on a summer love that doesn’t actually exist. I think it is the perfect song to make the transition from summer to fall, especially for hopeless romantics like myself. The song is a fairly easy listen. The more I hear it, the more I gradually begin to like it. I think for me, that can be said for a lot of her music.
A few other tracks I really enjoyed were “Love Song,” “How to Disappear” and “The Next Best American Record.” I also really enjoyed her cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time.” Not only did she do the cover justice, but the song also gave her album a breath of much needed fresh air.
A song that I had mixed feelings for was “Venice B*tch.” The lyrics were great, clever and catchy. It had a nice flow and rhythm. Then, the song kind of teases with a false ending. The synths and guitar riffs are in a battle for dominance, and the song becomes a bit too repetitive. It quickly got annoying. When I realized I wasn’t even half way through the song, which is nine minutes and 30 seconds, I ultimately did end up skipping to the next song.
Her songs, “California” and “Bartender,” reminded me of my initial impression of Rey when she first became a prominent figure on the music scene. My first thought when I heard Rey’s music for the first time was, “Why do people like her so much, especially when her music sounds like this?” For some people, I get that her music and songs might be masterpieces. For me, her voice, and especially her layering technique, sounds very dissonant for me. I’ve heard people say her voice sounds ‘smokey.’ To me, it sounds depressing and makes her voice sound flat at times. It makes it hard to listen to her songs. I prefer when she goes for higher notes, like in the song “California” where she does her layering technique. In those vocal layers, her soft angelic high voice comes out. It was a nice pop of something great, and it made me continue to want to listen to the song. I also really liked her lyrics and thought that the message in this song was relatable as well. But, again, her lower singing tones annoy me.
After listening to this album, I feel indifferent. She has some good songs that resonate with me, and some that don’t. She brings something new and organic to a mainstream audience. She doesn’t have over-saturated nonsense or songs that cater to migraine-inducing, overly-produced top 40 radio. She incorporates actual instruments and synths, giving her music edge over a majority of other artists. Overall, this album doesn’t really give me a new perspective on Rey. Although, I do appreciate what she does and the different sound that she brings to the table.