“Lust for life” has always been a phrase with big shoes to fill. It’s the title of the iconic, larger than life song by Iggy Pop, a story about lusting, drugs, and living on the edge, as well as the sunshine-y jangle of the 2009 single by the band Girls. The latter sings plenty about lusting as well— “Oh, I wish I had a boyfriend, I wish I had a loving man in my life…Maybe then I would’ve turned out right.”
The same titled song by Lana Del Rey, though not as fun or iconic as the other songs listed, falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not a loathsome, sunbaked rocker, or even a love story really; it’s a sex-fueled, pop-centric kiss off.
The cover of Lana Del Rey’s newest album, Lust For Life betrays her persona all too often. On Lust For Life, the All-American sweetheart smiling in front of the pickup truck with the flowers in her hair chants for The Weeknd to take off his clothes with lusty abandon.
“Climb up the H of the Hollywood sign, yeah,” Del Rey sings, “In these stolen moments the world is mine.”
It’s a bit of an ironic shtick but one that has stuck all along for Elizabeth Grant, who’s made a career as America’s pop idol next door. She lives in a world ruled by fast cars and James Dean types crossed with hip-hop verses and Mountain Dew.
The aesthetic is no different on Lust For Life which finds Del Rey doing what she does best; being drab, dramatic, and suave as hell.
“Love”, the album opener, dabbles in golden hour Americana darkened with teenage sadness and nostalgia.
“Look at you kids with your vintage music/Comin’ through satellites while cruisin’/You’re part of the past, but now you’re the future/Signals crossing can get confusing.”
Despite the melodrama, much of Lust For Life sounds instrumentally the same. Each song is washed in cool, shady atmospherics coupled with a faint hip-hop beat, and Del Rey’s low, operatic voice.
In terms of female artists, Del Rey’s ability pales in comparison to contemporaries like Grimes, Feist, and PJ Harvey, but it is important to note that Lust For Life debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. When compared to fellow chart toppers like Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, she is a stylistic diamond in the ruff.
“Coachella-Woodstock In My Mind” captures Del Rey’s persona perfectly. In the song, she paints a world of anachronisms, singing about trading it all to climb a stairway to heaven. Coachella is already dead; Del Rey wants to sway like it’s 1969.
What Del Rey lacks in originality though she makes up in style and flair; a sultry cocktail of Americana and perfume-y romanticism aimed for the suburban kids and Urban Outfitters across this country.
On Lust For Life, the pouty lips and glitz of the 50s meets the celebrity and sheen of today; she is Marilyn Monroe meets Courtney Love.
“God Bless America-And All The Beautiful Women In It” is a dreamy and hypnotic sample that would make both women proud. Del Rey hazily sings an unlikely feminist anthem, “God bless America, and all the beautiful people in it/May they stand proud and strong like Lady Liberty shining all night long.”
In the year 2017, Del Rey’s faux-50s, flower girl style seems campy and trite, and it should be, the woman is 32-years-old, yet in a world of plastic and latex she’s leather and denim. It’s an interesting rehash of a bygone era and Del Rey wears it better than anybody else; wide smile, almond eyes, and with flowers in her hair.
Sweet, pretty, and generic.