Lana del Rey: Chemtrails Over The Country Club album review
In her seventh studio album and most autobiographical work to date, Lana del Rey reflects on a life without fame and sings about escape from Los Angeles as she takes us on a journey through the heart of America.
The album begins with the track "White Dress" in which Del Rey reflects on her days working as a waitress, trying to make it in the music business. A contrast from her usual deep, sultry tone, this song uses raspy soprano vocals that the singer can just about reach – an ode to her older music, under her real name, Lizzy Grant before the Lana del Rey persona. This choice is all the more personal considering that Lana had previously stated that she adopted a lower tone to be taken more seriously, something she alludes to in the song when she sings about feeling ‘seen’ and ‘like a God’.
The title track “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” continues to follow her staple of vintage American glamour and evokes Slim Aarons like imagery of wealthy ladies at the country club. However, in tune with the rest of the album, the song also has themes of escapism and freedom with lyrics such as “I’m still so strange and wild.”
Both "Let Me Love You Like A Woman" and “Wild At Heart” talk about leaving LA and starting fresh. Interestingly, the instrumentals on the chorus of "Wild At Heart" were the same ones that were used in the song "How To Disappear" off her album Norman F*****g Rockwell, which contains similar themes of escape and reminiscing of one’s youth.
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the album is the bridge of “Dance Til We Die”. Switching from a gently sung ballad, the bridge suddenly erupts into seventies rock, projecting the image of remembering ‘the good old days’ and the carefreeness of youth. The album concludes with a melancholic cover of "For Free" by Joni Mitchell, sang with Zella Day and Weyes Blood, a song that honours artists who play for nothing but the joy of playing, against the backdrop of celebrity culture and fame. This excellent choice of closing track ties together the sentiments of freedom and nostalgia presented in the album and comes full circle from the first track, ‘White Dress’ in which Del Rey is one of these artists playing for free.
Overall, Chemtrails Over The Country Club is perhaps Lana del Rey’s most subdued and introspective album so far. While the lyricism in some tracks doesn’t quite match up to some her previous work, there is a certain vulnerability and fragility in tracks such as ‘White Dress’ and "Not All Who Wander Are Lost", with the high pitched, innocent sounding vocals. However, it is just as culturally relevant as its predecessor "Norman f*****g Rockwell", featuring lyrics about the death of Princess Diana and wildfires in California in ‘Wild at heart’:
I left Calabasas, escaped all the ashes, ran into the dark
And it made me wild at heart
The cameras have flashes, they cause the car crashes
But I’m not a star
The album is a meditation on the world coming to a standstill and reflecting the price of fame. In this 45 minutes and 11 seconds, Lana del Rey takes us on an American road trip down memory lane as she seeks answers both in her past and the open road ahead.