The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Over the years, Lana Del Rey has developed a sad girl vibes aura that at times diminishes her talent. Despite the fact that the media and hipsters have tried to cancel Lana multiple times over the years for glamourizing abuse and allegedly defending Donald Trump, there is no denying that she has established herself as an incredible songwriter, especially after the success of Norman Fucking Rockwell. Blue Banisters, released October 22, 2021, is another great tribute to her skills. She makes a plethora of references to artists that have influenced her, such as Joni Mitchell, as well as COVID-19, BLM, and her mental illness journey. After Chemtrails Over The Country Club, it seems as though she took a Taylor Swift-like approach to making music this year, with two releases that showcase her talents and go beyond the glamour we are used to hearing from her.
Blue Banisters has elements of the Lana that we all know and love from eras such as Ultraviolence, but she also surprises listeners with a new mature sound that is stripped down and quietly powerful. It feels like her most personal and raw album yet.
Unfortunately, the songs she took from the vaults of her work are obvious at times and do not necessarily add to the flow of the album. If you Lie Down With Me, which was written in 2013, and Thunder, which was written around 2017, are both examples of this. They are a bit forgettable, and make reference to themes that we have already heard many times before, like her obsession with older men.
The only other critique I have is that Blue Banisters starts off very slow, and there is not a lot of variation in tempo, so this is definitely an album you listen to when you’re feeling a bit mellow. Despite the aforementioned issues, I believe that this could be a popular nomination for the coming awards season.
Choosing my favorite tracks from this album was a real challenge, because they are constantly changing. However, the overall standout is clear, and I have to say this might be one of her best songs to date: the fourth track after the interlude, titled, Black Bathing Suit. It feels very true to her but more reflective and well-crafted. She is clapping back at the people who criticized her body during the pandemic, while reminding her audience of her famous song, Video Games. She does this by asserting that she is the bad girl, and no matter what people say, good or bad, she is making “stacks” off of the press. Additionally, the complete tempo and rhythm change in the chorus demonstrates her incredible skill of being able to have an impact through her music. She is challenging the listener the whole time while also taking them deeper into her life.
One of the most popular songs off the album on Spotify, and a personal favorite of mine, is Dealer feat. Miles Kane. This is another track with a mature sound that departs from her normal tone by adding a lot of variation to the vocals. It reminds me of Alabama Shakes with the vocal effects she chooses. Additionally, the topic is extremely dark, and describes a very different aspect of a relationship than she has explored in her other works. Maybe she’s singing about a loved one with addiction, or it could be the drug itself that hurt her. She does hop on the phone call trend at the end of the song, however it works in this context. That trend feels a bit antiquated after we’ve heard every single artist use it within the last 5 years, but given that a phone call is a central theme to the song, I’ll let it slide.
We also see Lana explore her motherly side and family in general. We learn that she had a very rough relationship with her mother but really values her father. In Cherry Blossom, she is writing to who seems to be her future daughter and describe what she wishes her relationship with her mom could’ve been like. It calls back to another song on the album, Wildflowers Wildfires, where she struggles between the two sides of her personality and doesn’t want to end up like the “wildfire” that is her mother. It seems that she expects to pass that mentality on to her daughter and wants her daughter to embody a wildflower, free and beautiful.
The song after Wildflowers and Wildfires is Sweet Carolina, which Lana wrote with her father and sister, Chuck, as a lullaby to her sister after she gave birth to her first child. It is playful, emotional, and simply beautiful. She writes from a place that we rarely saw before Blue Banisters, and we are completely transported to the most intimate parts of her life. It is a perfect way to close the album. After we are guided through her personal journey, we end with a beautiful ode to family and feel like we’ve earned the right to be let into this circle.
I highly recommend listening to Blue Banisters whether or not you are a Lana stan. Listeners can see beyond her celebrity status and realize the toll that Hollywood can take on artists. It is not perfect, and can’t top Norman Fucking Rockwell, but I can see this album being cited as one of her leading works – just be prepared to cry.