The last time Lana Del Rey kicked off an album campaign, she was moaning her way across crashing drums, shifting tempos and psychedelic rock textures on “West Coast,” the ominous lead single off of Ultraviolence.
That trip to the stormy side is seemingly over for the time being — and now, she’s sitting down for a spell.
After embarking on her Endless Summer Tour at the beginning of the season, our beloved Queen Of Coney Island has returned to us with the lead single and title track of her third studio album Honeymoon, casually dropping the song on YouTube with no warning, as Lana Del Rey does.
“Honeymoon” is an interesting decision sonically for Lana — but, unfortunately, not in the sense that the song itself is particularly all that interesting.
For one thing, it’s quite literal in its Lana Del Rey-ism: The classic LDR lyrical motifs are all there — the bad baby, romantic drives, guns and roses. And that’s all well and good, if not occasionally a little too on-the-nose. (“Mr. Born-To-Lose”?)
With its sweeping strings, the production of “Honeymoon” isn’t different than anything we’ve already heard on Born To Die or Paradise. That’s not a surprise, either: In interviews leading up to this new “noirish” era in the past few months, she’s referred to the new music as “similar” to her debut, as opposed to the darker shades of Ultraviolence.
But then, it’s not really like Born To Die either, is it? “Honeymoon” feels more like if Lana were told to recreate the essence of Born To Die while still feeling very Ultraviolence inside. There’s a dark and somewhat defeated undercurrent, despite those deeply romantic sweeps of orchestral strings throughout. It’s a spacious production too, relying heavily on Lana’s voice to do the heavy lifting between the many pockets of silence. Only toward the very end does the song start to really fill out with a hint of distant marching drums and a piano melody, as Lana sweetly riffs her way through as our ever-faithful jazz singer.
“Dreaming away your life…” It’s a good moment, but gone too soon.
“Honeymoon” is as haunting a listen as any of Lana’s work. But as far as a lead single? “Video Games” propelled Lana into superstardom nearly overnight. “Ride” was an ambitious next step in her sound, supplying her with a genuinely epic, evocative anthem for Paradise. “West Coast” was vastly more divisive, but undeniably intriguing, proving she was capable of exploring uncharted territory.
With “Honeymoon,” it’s a bit more difficult to interpret her vision just yet: There’s seemingly no new lyrical or musical ground covered, and the subtle trace of that Born To Die sound doesn’t evoke the same kind of warm, vintage Americana nostalgia. Still, it’s beautiful and hypnotic — everything Lana records is.
Lana provided some insight into the song on her secondary Instagram, honeymoon, earlier today:
Here it is, the first and title track off my record – Honeymoon. In some ways I feel it’s where the record begins and ends… there are so many other tracks on the record, 13 others to be exact- Some with a muddy trap energy and some inspired by late-night Miles Davis drives… But I love this song because it encapsulates all of the things that come naturally to me.
So, the song “encapsulates all of the things that come naturally” to her…which, in essence, is another way of saying she’s played it safe this time around, no? And that’s alright, so long as the record doesn’t feel like a retread of previously explored musical territory. It doesn’t sound like it will be, though: A “muddy trap energy”? I’m down for a little Lana Del Mud Wrestling.
My passport is stamped and my bathing suit is packed, and I’m very much still ready to take our honeymoon. Are you?
UPDATE: A little birdy tells me “Honeymoon” isn’t actually a single, but a taste of what’s to come. (Phew.)