Lana Del Rey’s ‘Norman F*****g Rockwell!’ is the next best American record.

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Lana Del Rey’s ‘Norman F*****g Rockwell!’ is the next best American record.

The censored cover of Lana Del Rey's fifth major-label studio album, 'Norman F*****g Rockwell!'. The uncensored version features the album's title in full as opposed to abbreviated.

The censored cover of Lana Del Rey's fifth major-label studio album, 'Norman F*****g Rockwell!'. The uncensored version features the album's title in full as opposed to abbreviated.

Polydor Records, Interscope Records

The censored cover of Lana Del Rey's fifth major-label studio album, 'Norman F*****g Rockwell!'. The uncensored version features the album's title in full as opposed to abbreviated.

Polydor Records, Interscope Records

Polydor Records, Interscope Records

The censored cover of Lana Del Rey's fifth major-label studio album, 'Norman F*****g Rockwell!'. The uncensored version features the album's title in full as opposed to abbreviated.

Mason Montano and Tai Le

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American singer-songwriter and alt-pop enchantress Lana Del Rey began teasing her fifth major-label studio album, Norman F*****g Rockwell!, in September 2018 with the release of lead singles, “Mariners Apartment Complex” and “Venice B***h”, and after an entire year of sharing snippets of new songs and periodically dropping singles, the record finally arrived in late August.

NFR!, whose title is a crude allusion to the iconic American painter Norman Rockwell and a social commentary on the “American dream” and modern pop culture, has a cinematic vibe, reflecting the sound and style of 1950s/60s Americana a common trend of Del Rey’s work. 

Sonically, the record is similar to her second major-label album, Ultraviolence, due to its folk and psychedelic rock influences. This is likely owed to the album’s primary producer, Jack Antonoff, who specializes in the rock genre.

Lyrically, it appears to be a loose continuation of her previous album, Lust for Life, as both records were heavily inspired by California and the American West Coast. Del Rey has stated in the past that all of her albums are connected, so it’s very likely NFR! is, in fact, the sequel to Lust for Life.

In spite of these similarities, however, NFR! stands out amongst her discography because instead of taking inspiration from Hollywood starlets and glamour, the album was inspired by Warholian era pop art and 1960s surf movies.

These aesthetics are displayed beautifully in the double-music video for the songs, “F**k it, I love you” and “The greatest”, which includes scenes of Del Rey surfing at the beach, performing at a karaoke bar, and walking along the boardwalk at sunset. It’s literally like watching a surf movie from the 60s. 

NFR! toggles between two major sounds: surf rock and trip-hop. The orchestral title track and psychedelic follow-ups, like “Venice B***h” and “F**k it, I love you”, open the album with a somber tone that’s later disrupted by trip-hop bangers, like Del Rey’s cover of sublime’s “Doin’ Time”, and yet, she managed to incorporate these opposing styles into the tracklist with ease, truly the work of a top-tier witch Lana is infamously known to have allegedly used witchcraft to cast a spell on Donald Trump in July 2017.

Another aspect of the tracklist that was greatly appreciated by fans was the inclusion of the song, “The Next Best American Record”. Originally intended for Lust for Life as “Architecture”, the song was ultimately left off the tracklist due to leaks and quickly became a fan favorite, so it was very satisfying to see it finally get the official release it rightfully deserves.

The closing track and third single, “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have but i have it”, showcases Del Rey’s growth as a songwriter. Filled with raw emotions and introspection, the lyrics read like a personal diary, detailing her personal struggles with depression, fame, and feeling alone in her sorrow. It’s a journey into the deepest reaches of her psyche and ends the album with what can only be given a standing ovation.

Unfortunately, the NFR! era is not perfect, as the period leading up to the album’s release was severely plagued by leaks. Two weeks before the intended release date, the entire record leaked in low quality after the cassette tapes were accidentally shipped out too early, and a week later, record stores in South America began erroneously selling copies of the CDs and vinyls. Thankfully, the album’s release carried on as planned, and NFR! was met with overwhelming critical acclaim, earning a 9.4 on Pitchfork and reaching #1 on the U.K. Albums Chart.

Despite the messy era, Lana Del Rey reminded us why she’s the head witch in charge with this immaculate record. Norman F*****g Rockwell! is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream Norman F*****g Rockwell! on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5XpEKORZ4y6OrCZSKsi46A?si=VSGF5756SLWa5O2Z-bvrNA

Watch the music video for “F**k it, I love you” and “The greatest”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrSX_OcpeJg

Polydor Records, Interscope Records
Del Rey in the double-music video for “F**k it, I love you” and “The greatest”.