Lana Del Rey’s ‘Honeymoon’: A Lush Examination Of Love And Work

Lana Del Rey’s ‘Honeymoon’: A Lush Examination Of Love And Work

With her third album, Lana Del Rey offers her most mature and inspired work to date. But will she burn our house down?
Rich Cromwell
By

To properly enjoy a honeymoon with Lana Del Rey, we have to start with the penultimate track and work backwards. It’s a counterintuitive move to begin a journey with a swan song, but when it comes to the chanteuse, the rules are hazier.

Given the lush cinematic soundscape that is “Honeymoon,” hazy is our best course of action. We cannot enjoy tropical drinks and deck chairs until we’ve retired, until we’ve heeded Lana’s call to “put our white tennis shoes on” and followed her. Given the maturity present in “Honeymoon,” it’s a tempting and seemingly apropos offer, but not exactly accurate.

Now is not the time to leave the world to the ones who change everything, but to storm into it, to ponder the insufficiency of a single day and the pointlessness of a future without a future. This time around, Lana adores us; we are the Salvatore for which she has been waiting all this time. In us, not in herself, Lana has found religion. What might have been is an abstraction. There is only what is.

And what is there? Well, as we’ve made it now from the penultimate track through the stated interlude, we’ll find that what is called the interlude is not, actually. The actual interlude is instead the song that precedes it—“Art Deco.”

They Want More

In the thumping song, Lana sings not to the unnamed man who might put on white tennis shoes, but to an unnamed woman out in the club. If “Ultraviolence” was at times oversexed, the heroes of “Honeymoon” while “looking to score” are also “shining like gun metal, cold and unsure.” Why does this uncertainty exist? Because they want more.

Lana elucidates in “Freak”: “Flames so hot that they turn blue / Palms reflecting in your eyes, like an endless summer / That’s the way I feel for you / If time stood still, I’d take this moment / Make it last forever.” This is not a call to walk away, but to work, although we can scarcely call it that. It’s a call to come “be a freak” with her and to “slow dance to rock music / kiss while we do it / Talk ‘til we both turn blue.”

“Honeymoon,” while a lyrically deep and honest inspection of love, is also a gloriously produced and mixed album that sounds more like a soundtrack than a pop album. Every track is meticulously layered, from opulent strings and synths to speaker-rattling bass. You don’t just listen to the songs, you are encompassed by them. You are wrapped up and taken on a journey; you are relaxed and drifting along with every note.

Loving You Is Hard; Being Here Is Harder

All these factors come crashing together on the first single from the album, “High By the Beach.”

In the song, in which our love has slightly detoured because we’ve been caught being bad men, the bass thunders while the highs and vocals swirl about, creating the aforementioned cinematic landscape. The track even ends in cinematic fashion. “Everyone can start again / Not through love but through revenge / Through the fire, we’re born again / Peace by vengeance / Brings the end.”

Ring Of Fire

Okay, I never said “Honeymoon” was all lovey dovey. I did say it was honest, for if you’ve never inspired a woman to at least think about setting something on fire, you’re probably doing it wrong. Life is all about highs and lows, the yin and the yang, and we all have those moments in which we get destroyed on Monday only to get to Friday and find ourselves revived. Sometimes those moments cause us to throw our hands up and say, “God knows I’ve tried.” Other times, someone ponders buying gasoline.

If you’ve never inspired a woman to at least think about setting something on fire, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Then the anger subsides and gives way to acceptance. She no longer wants revenge. She is more wistful, singing, “But I lost myself when I lost you.” Maybe if she hadn’t sought revenge she wouldn’t have lost us, although perhaps we invited that. At least she can put the radio on and hold us tight in her mind.

That’s because, even though she burned the house down, Lana does like us. She likes us a lot, even if she’s watching other boys go by. She’s also “singing soft grunge just to soak up the noise / (Blue Ribbons on ice) / Playing their guitars, only one of my toys.” The offer to put those white tennis shoes on is definitely less tempting now. We’ve got cold beers to go with the music, and no fires? Now we’re getting to a real honeymoon, which is good because we’ve also reached the title track.

On to Our Honeymoon

Press play; the music starts. It fades in around us as the chanteuse makes an assertion: “We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me / But you don’t go ‘cause truly there’s nobody for you but me.” We know it isn’t true, that her smoky voice projects pretty lies, but our moment has arrived. It is time for us to settle into the glorious work that is our future together.

We’ll never retire, never stop the music. There are violets in our eyes and guns blazing around us. There are roses between her thighs and fires that surround us. Like I said, if you’re not at least occasionally making her think about something being on fire, you’re doing it wrong. That, in a nutshell, is what “Honeymoon” is. It’s not a swan song, but the beginning of passion that will burn for years.

Richard Cromwell is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter, @rcromwell4.

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