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 'Norman F*****g Rockwell'. The uncensored version features the album's title in full as opposed to abbreviated.

The censored cover of '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 '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 '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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After a whole year of teasing new music, Lana Del Rey has returned with her immaculate fifth, major-label studio album, Norman F*****g Rockwell. The title, which is a crude allusion to the iconic American painter Norman Rockwell, is a social commentary on the “American Dream” and modern pop culture.

NFR has a cinematic vibe, reflecting the 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, because of its folk and psychedelic rock influences. This is likely owed to the album’s primary producer, Jack Antonoff, who specializes in the rock genre. In terms of lyrics, it feels like a loose continuation of her previous album, Lust for Life, as both records were heavily inspired by California.

In spite of these similarities, NFR stands out among Del Rey’s discography because instead of taking inspiration from Hollywood starlets and glamour, the album’s visuals are inspired by Warholian era pop art and 1960s surf movies. These aesthetics are showcased perfectly in the double-music video for the songs, “F**k it, i love you” and “The greatest”. The nine-and-a-half minute video includes fun scenes of Del Rey surfing at the beach, sultry moments of her performing at a karaoke bar, and beautiful shots of her on the boardwalk at sunset. It’s literally like watching a surf movie from the 60s. 

Now, let’s talk about the music: We mean it when we say that every song is an absolute masterpiece! The orchestral opening track thrusts the listener into a somber mood, which is disrupted with trip-hop bangers like Del Rey’s cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time”, and yet, she managed to incorporate it 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.

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

Several tracks on the album showcase Del Rey’s growth as a songwriter, especially the third single, “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it”. Filled with raw emotions and introspection, the lyrics read like a personal diary and detail her personal struggles with depression, fame, and feeling alone in her sorrow. It’s a journey into the deepest reaches of her psyche, closing 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 in late August was plagued by leaks. Two weeks before the intended release date, the entire album leaked in low quality due to the cassette tapes accidentally getting shipped two weeks in advance. Record stores around the world also began erroneously selling copies of the CDs and vinyls an entire week early. Thankfully, while the leaks may have upset many fans, and surely Lana as well, the album’s release carried on as planned, and NFR was met with critical acclaim, earning a 9.4 on Pitchfork and reaching #1 on the UK album charts.

Despite the messy era, Lana Del Rey reminded us why she’s the head witch in charge, enchanting listeners with the release of this record. Norman F*****g Rockwell is available 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”.