sun 05/12/2021

Album: Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters

Album: Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters

True romance from the Americana pop icon

Lana tells her story

Lana Del Rey’s eighth album would tell her story “and pretty much nothing else”, she teased, as her planned, near instant follow-up to Chemtrails Over the Country Club slipped back from spring to autumn.

Del Rey has often claimed autobiography at the heart of her artful glamour, flesh and blood behind the celluloid poise, the ad man’s daughter, metaphysics student and Williamsburg singer-songwriter Lizzy Grant still writing intently beneath the film star veneer.

Chemtrails’ masterful opener “White Dress” certainly turned a teenage waitress job into a transcendently glowing snapshot of an adolescent ache to be “seen”, just as Norman Fucking Rockwell!’s “Venice Bitch” transmuted wild romance into a psychedelic epic. Del Rey has also combined classic singer-songwriter intimacy with pop production lustre, as if her career is a heightened biopic of her early, acoustic struggles. So maybe this is all real as well as hyper-real, a brilliant disguise for naked exposure.

Blue Banisters begins with the daddy issues of “Textbook”, steel guitar strokes and spectral harmonies shadowing the usual pulp iconography (“You’ve got a Thunderbird/My daddy had one, too”). “Blue Banisters” returns to Chemtrails’ gilded suburban wasteland and supportive female community, where “there’s a hole in my heart, all my women try to heal”, and the pool never closes. “Arcadia” then stretches the conceit that “my body is a map of LA” to perhaps deliberately daft breaking point: “My chest the Sierra Madre/My hips every high- and byway/That you trace with your fingertips like a Toyota/Run your hands over me like a Land Rover”. Del Rey has often seemed to cruise down a post-modern Thunder Road, considering Springsteen’s cars and girls from the perspective of Gun Crazy’s car-riding, dissolute, Forties wild thing. But even the Boss didn’t fetishise the open road this loopily.

Del Rey’s recent co-writer/producer Jack Antonoff is absent (though familiar collaborators such as Zachary Dawes remain), and Blue Banisters has little new to say sonically, drifting by on piano and hushed Tex-Mex arrangements, all in the service of her remarkable pop voice. Its hitching, hooky climb at the title track’s end, and grain as she sings “Beautiful” while piano keys click, is Del Rey’s truth; a Sinatra acolyte’s art, framed by resonant space. She’s throaty then creamy on “If You Lie Down With Me”, and drawls like a honkytonk angel as she demands: “Put your jacket on, be a genul-man/Get into your truck and pick me up at 8.” “Living Legend” seems to secrete a closer truth, in a fond anthem to a former lover from back when “hipsters will sing just like a dream...in the back Brooklyn bayou”, ending with a distorted Del Rey wailing just like an electric guitar.

Her unfashionable emotional and artistic core remains sensual evocations of slavishly consuming love, sometimes masochistic or mistaken, rather than the aspirational, feminist version. She takes her female strength, and maybe half her voice, from Lauren Bacall, Bogart’s idolising equal, husky, tough yet wide open. And those daddy issues? “I’m friends with my mother, and I still love my dad.” The good upper-middle class, upstate New York girl lives on inside the bad girl pop tropes. Perhaps it’s why her honest sensuality always sounds so innocent – “swinging out like Jesus, wild and free”. There’s a kindness and commonality nearer the surface this time, Lizzy Grant breaking through.

Maybe this is all real as well as hyper-real, a brilliant disguise for naked exposure

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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