Lana Del Rey – ‘Honeymoon’ – Single review

James Patrick Carraghan

James Patrick Carraghan is an award-winning activist, writer, librarian and student at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. He spends his free time gardening, hording books and flirting. You can follow him on tumblr at http://thelibrarynevercloses.tumblr.com/

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The new single by Lana Del Rey dropped about a week ago.

Following the seeming aeons between Born to Die (2012) and Ultraviolence (2014), the announcement that another full-length album is soon to materialize was a bit shocking – to have proof that this is more than talk is even more shocking. Uploaded to YouTube, fans are getting a peek at the next step in Del Rey’s career.

The video has a small visual prologue and epilogue in colour and black and white, filmed on what looks like an old VHS camcorder. The style of this kind of filmmaking works to remind the viewer of both Harmony Korine and the recent experiments of Jean-Luc Godard.

Music videos are the last haven for surrealism and avant-garde filmmakers – most people will be willing to put up with the ‘weird’ for about four minutes, so long as the song is good. Del Rey has always been good for a decent music video riffing off of the post-modernist or DIY aesthetic, and the visual aspect of this sniffs of both. Ending with an old TV static that brings to mind the opening of David Lynch’s Fire Walk with Me, the static is replaced with another static image – the lyrics on the screen.

The lyrics seem less developed when mixed with Del Rey’s honey-whisky voice than they did on Ultraviolence, coming across as awkward and slightly rushed. This is balanced by the harmonies, which seem so heavily layered that they are capable of taking the listener into a trance state when listening with headphones. Del Rey has a way of singing about the terribly depressing in a way which is fantastic, and the harmonies and husky sex appeal – rather than the lyrics – keep the song moving.

Out on her Honeymoon with Mr. Born-to-Lose, the mix of sex and violence – ‘there are roses in between my thighs and fire that surrounds you,’ she sings in one of the better lines of the song – that follows the two of them keeps Del Rey returning to a teenager’s sense of romanticism.

After a few listens, I began to wonder if success might have limited Del Rey’s arsenal of lyrical tropes, as it seems that she keeps going back to the same two or three subjects. One of the reasons that Ultraviolence was such a welcome record was that she had expanded in sound – trading 50s nostalgia for the 1960s and 70s, and showing a desire for a new sound.

It seems that not having had more time to produce another album has forced Del Rey into a corner. The song seems to linger at a midpoint between Del Rey’s first two LPs.

Lana Del Rey is a mystery to me, and that is perhaps one of the reasons why I like her. The image which made her popular was an appeal to hipsters and the indie scene, despite the fact that her style and public persona are constructed by her label.

How much do we know about Lana Del Rey, really? She exists in the public consciousness primarily as the vessel for her music, as an aesthetic rather than a person. Until I’d seen pictures of it, I didn’t know that she could even smile.

‘Honeymoon’ is a single which feels like a bunch of different pieces cobbled together in one. It will hold the attention of Del Rey’s fans, but suffers from a lack of structure and form.

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