Though not her magnum opus, Lana Del Rey’s latest record is an intimate collection of tracks.
Chemtrails Over The Country Club is Lana Del Rey’s return to form from her 2019 masterpiece Norman Fucking Rockwell!. After getting robbed at last year’s Grammys, she teamed up again with producer Jack Antonoff and bounced back with this new record by borrowing a similar aesthetic, this time even more lowkey and ill-defined.
This record sees Del Rey embark on a much more stripped back and simpler sound, with not a lot of percussion throughout the album. She merges sad and mellow piano ballads with a fair amount of acoustic guitar chords, embracing country elements at times, even collaborating with country singer Nikki Lane on the track “Breaking Up Slowly.”
While going towards a more subtle approach on this new project, Del Ray still borrows her usual aesthetic, which consists of melodramatic and nostalgic ballads that have cinematographic-like qualities to them, all layered with hauntingly beautiful vocals.
She puts a lot of emphasis on her voice and how she can experiment with it, like with the quirky opener “White Dress,” where she produces whispery high-pitched notes sounding almost like she is out of breath, which is surprisingly appealing for some reason. She also uses autotune on “Tulsa Jesus Freak,” which is not something we are used to seeing Del Rey play with.
Highlights include the song “Wild At Heart,” which witness Del Rey escape her Californian lifestyle to go live in the Midwest, where her wild heart is freer than ever. The chorus is really reminiscent of the chorus of the song “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it,” on Norman Fucking Rockwell!.
Another standout is the sixth track “Dark But Just A Game,” where Lana Del Rey sings about artists and actors succumbing to fame. She tries to stay the same throughout all of this, which is resumed by these lyrics on the chorus: “We keep changing all the time / The best ones lost their minds / So I’m not gonna change / I’ll stay the same.” Sonically, “Dark But Just A Game is exceptionally well-crafted, with a little distortion in her voice in the verses, with her vocals on the chorus making the listener feel like they are swimming in a pool of honey. All of this mixed with a somber instrumental makes for one of Del Rey’s best songs to date.
Regardless of this new album witnessing Lana Del Rey at a more calm and posed mood than on its predecessor, Chemtrails Over The Country Club is still a great follow up to her critically acclaimed Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Rating : 7.5/10
Trial track : “Dark But Just A Game”