With the release of Lana Del Rey’s highly anticipated album, Norman F**king Rockwell!, critics and fans alike agree that Del Rey has outdone herself while continuing to foster a musical style unmatched by modern artists. NFR! maintains a cohesive sound, but each song has its own unique energy, which proves Del Rey’s musical growth from earlier projects.
Norman F**king Rockwell (title track): 8/10 Norman F**king Rockwell opens up the 14 track album with the nostalgic mentality of “cause you’re just a man, it’s just what you do,” and patriarchy aside, it lays the foundation for the rest of NFR!. The song and the album are focused around the romanticization of stereotypical American life. The love story being described isn’t about finding prince charming, but about a guy who writes bad poetry, which really stands true to America and Del Rey as an artist.
Notable Lyrics: “You act like a kid even though you stand six foot two”
Mariners Apartment Complex: 9/10 What sets Mariners Apartment Complex apart from a lot of Del Rey songs is that the main subject of the song is herself and not her love interest. While he is mentioned, the song is firmly from Del Rey’s perspective and just features his interactions with her. The song asserts Del Rey’s power as a woman, and is an honest reflection of her thought process.
Notable Lyrics: “Kind of girl who’s gonna make you wonder Who you are and who you’ve been”
Venice B*tch: 7/10 The lyrical merit of Venice B*tch is similar to Del Rey’s past works, but the pitch of the song is higher and sharper than other tracks. The song is authentic and a valuable asset to Del Rey’s discography, but felt dragged as the song is nearly ten minutes. This is the type of song you love to play, but can never get all the way through it without skipping.
Notable Lyrics: “You’re beautiful and I’m insane We’re American-made”
F*ck It I Love You: 9/10 F*ck It I Love you features multiple changes in speed and pitch that accompanied by vulnerable and exposing lyrics makes the song both catchy and relatable. The song is emotional, but significantly more lighthearted than similar songs on previous albums. The lighter take works in Del Rey’s favor by capturing her audience’s feelings without exclusively being played in times of desperation.
Notable Lyrics: “You moved to California, but it’s just a state of mind And you know everyone adores you You can’t feel it and you’re tired ”
Doin’ Time: 7/10 To preface, Doin’ Time is not an original Lana Del Rey song, but a cover of a song by Sublime. Regardless, Doin’ Time is one of the most high energy songs on NFR!. It’s the kind of song that would work well in a promotional video, because it’s easy to pick up on and generally uplifting, but not overwhelming enough for it to become a distraction.
Notable Lyrics: “Oh, take this veil from off my eyes My burning sun will, some day, rise”
Love Song: 10/10 As one of the slower songs on the album, Love Song is definitely mellow and even borderline tranquilizing. Del Rey’s smooth vocals are met with a very simple piano background that greatly enhance the track. Love Song fits a variety a different moods and in my opinion is the perfect song for a contemporary dance routine. Above all, the song contains such a high artistic value that mesmerizes listeners.
Notable Lyrics: “Would like to think that you would stick around You know that I’d just die to make you proud”
Cinnamon Girl: 10/10 Cinnamon Girl sounds like what the entire Honeymoon album strived to be. Del Rey’s raspy harmonizing works exceptionally well on this track as it highlights the explicit nature of the lyrics. The slight electronic influence blends with the piano to make the song sound modern and is a reminder of why Del Rey is the face of the alternative music genre.
Notable Lyrics: “There’s things I wanna say to you, but I’ll just let you live Like if you hold me without hurting me You’ll be the first who ever did”
How To Disappear: 7/10 When How To Disappear was initially leaked, I believed it would be the album frontrunner- a solid 10/10, but the official release was underwhelming at best. The lyrics are beautifully heartfelt, but hidden behind the jazz music. The lyrics are not able to tell the story to the best of their ability with the distraction of the music that fails to match the tone.
Notable Lyrics: “But I love that man like nobody can He moves mountains and pounds them to ground again”
California: 7/10 California returns the album back to NFR!’s central theme of the American romance. Despite relating to the theme, the track serves as an outlier, sounding more like it belonged in Lust For Life. California is less vivid compared to the album’s other songs, making in turn less memorable. As always Del Rey’s vocals are what makes the song relaxing and enjoyable to listen to, but they are not as groundbreaking as its counterparts.
Notable Lyrics: “You don’t ever have to act cooler than you think you should You’re brighter than the brightest stars”
The Next Best American Record: 6/10 As a whole NFR! is Del Rey’s strongest album lyrically and vocally, but the best way to describe The Next Best American Record is the elevator music of this album. There’s nothing specifically wrong with it, but it’s not interesting enough to devote your whole attention to. The sound is overdone and nothing sets it apart from other alternative music.
Notable Lyrics: “He was ’70s in spirit‚ ’90s in his frame of mind”
The Greatest: 10/10 The Greatest reminds me of the style of songs Del Rey’s often creates for movie soundtracks. Fighting for the slot of the most romantic song on the album, The Greatest multi-tasks by exploring nostalgia from Del Rey’s personal life. It dives into modern day America and how it parallels what is traditionally thought of American values. The song is candid and pure, and I could definitely see it being involved in future films.
Notable Lyrics: “Kanye West is blond and gone
“Life on Mars” ain’t just a song”
Bartender: 8/10 Bartender is an example of a simple and well done song. The structure and sound is pretty plain, but accessorized with stutters and repetition. The track is more targeted towards storytelling than emotional value, which helps NFR! Keep a relatively even balance of both. The detailed lyrics elevate the song above average and conclude its timeless feel.
Notable Lyrics: “But sometimes, girls just want to have fun The poetry inside of me is warm like a gun”
Happiness Is A Butterfly: 10/10 As a teased fan-favorite, Happiness Is A Butterfly lived up to its hype when the official version was released. The song focuses around having nothing to lose and allowing yourself to be free. This metaphor can be seen with how butterflies are the definition of happiness through their freedom and inability to be caught. Del Rey wants to give up all the stigmas and pressures and live a carefree life with her love interest, much like a butterfly.
Notable Lyrics: “If he’s as bad as they say, then I guess I’m cursed Looking into his eyes, I think he’s already hurt”
Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have- But I Have It: 10/10 Released as a single prior to NFR!, this track concludes the album on a literal hopeful note. The entirety of the song feels necessary for its completion, wasting no time. As the title reflects, Del Rey’s proves her emotional maturity by maintaining her hope throughout rough times. From Born to Die up until Lust For Life, Del Rey was known for being the token sad girl who is consumed by her emotions. This track emphasizes her change in character and leaves listeners eager for more music to come.
Notable Lyrics: “Servin’ up God in a burnt coffee pot for the triad Hello, it’s the most famous woman you know on the iPad Calling from beyond the grave, I just wanna say, “Hi, Dad”
Featured image is Lana Del Rey’s limited edition cover