#29. Lana Del Rey: Honeymoon

In 2014 Lana Del Rey released her second studio album Ultraviolence. On it, she strayed away from her 21st-century torch singing to explore the realm of psychedelic rock. Thanks in part to production from Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys and The Arcs) she convincingly melded her sound with his electric guitars and psychedelic hues. Now on her third release Honeymoon, she’s put a bow on that little excursion and returned to the trip-hop dream pop of her debut.

It’s a wonder Lana Del Rey hasn’t been tapped to make a 007 theme song yet; her sultry, retro sound would fit in perfectly with the franchise. And at the start of Honeymoon she somehow manages to ramp up that sensuality even higher. The title track opens up the album with strings so suggestive and cinematic it’s a crime they haven’t already been used in the opening scene of a film. The rest of the album is a bit more uptempo than the dirgelike intro—although her idea of uptempo is still slow by most standards. “High by the Beach” is one of the more energized tracks, with its trip-hop hi-hat playing sixteenth note triplets underneath her relaxed drawl.

On Honeymoon Lana Del Rey might have returned to her comfort zone, but she does push its boundaries a bit more than she has in the past. She splices fragments of other artists into the album like sparse pieces of collage pasted over an art deco painting. On the album’s interlude, “Burnt Norton,” she plainly recites an excerpt from T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets." The album’s final track is a cover of the classic “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” She pulls the track’s opening riff from The Animals’ version of the song, but her vocals gravitate closer to the original Nina Simone recording.

Interestingly, Lana Del Rey’s music makes a lot of sense when it’s framed somewhere between The Animals and Nina Simone. Having said that, Honeymoon leans away from the electric guitar sounds she’s loved in the past (not only on Ultraviolence but on her debut album as well with tracks like “Blue Jeans”), and gravitates more towards the realm of classic torch singers. Around the time of Honeymoon’s release, Lana Del Rey was seen with new tattoos commemorating some of the great singers that she’s clearly trying to emulate on the album. The tattoos simply say “Nina, Billie, Whitney, Amy.” Those are some damn big shoes to try and fill, but at the very least Honeymoon keeps their tradition alive and thriving.