Review: Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon

First, we were Born to Die, then we were taken to Paradise. We were dragged into Ultraviolence and now we’re embarking on our Honeymoon. Lana Del Rey’s musical career has been nothing short of a nostalgic adventure, filled with Lolita-esque imagery and a sound that could be pulled straight from a 1950’s Greatest Hits album. She’s been the front artist on a major motion picture soundtrack (“The Great Gatsby”) and has also had an extremely successful dance track on mainstream radio (“Summertime Sadness” Cedric Gervais Remix).

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Her first album Born to Die had its bumps in the road, but it was pretty cohesive and stuck to its motif. The following nine track album Paradise was a success, having such a cohesive vibe and tons of standout tracks. Her most recent studio effort – dubbed Ultraviolence – fell short of its predecessors. The tracks blended together, seeming so repetitive that you could listen to any of the tracks and it sounded like the others.

So I was a little hesitant when it came to her releasing a new album, entitled Honeymoon, but I was still excited. I’ve listened to it and I’m not very sure where I stand with it. Here’s my track by track review of Honeymoon.

Honeymoon
The title track starts the album. There’s this group of strings that opens before Lana’s sultry vocals start over what sounds like a violin/piano production. The chorus is very pulled back and repetitive, but it works. My complaint here is that it drags on. The song pushes on six minutes, with her elongating what seems to be almost every vowel.

I know that it’s supposed to evoke a feeling, but if anything, I feel as if this should’ve been an intro or something, maybe with just the first verse and chorus. Everything else feels unnecessary.
Rating: 4/10

Favorite Lyric: There are violets in your eyes/There are guns that blaze around you

Music To Watch Boys To
When this song begins, we feel like it’s going to be more of a pop song, with faster production. But instead, it’s more of a slow jam feeling. Which, to be fair, is expected of Lana. It’s just frustrating because this song has such a great hook. Maybe this will be like “Summertime Sadness” and receive a remix that will dominate radio.

It could be done. The song has a lot of potential. It’s still good with the slow moving production. It just feels like a lot more could be done with it.
Rating: 7/10

Favorite Lyric: Like love or lemonade/Or sun or summer days

Terrence Loves You
A promotional single, released prior to the album’s release, “Terrence” is another slow song. This is where I have a problem. I love Lana Del Rey’s slow songs, yes, but I’m starting to lose interest in this album. Born To Die, Paradise, and even Ultraviolence all started off with songs that had great sonic power, songs that completely blow it out of the water so that there’s room later on for the amazing slow songs.

I love this song, I do. I just think that maybe it would work out if Lana didn’t put two slower songs in the beginning. It makes things drag on, and doesn’t really keep the listener following for much longer. Her die-hard fans, sure, but the ultimate goal is for big success outside of the fanbase; getting more people, especially from other genres, to start following her music. She did well getting them with her previous albums, even with “Young and Beautiful” from the Gatsby soundtrack, but by putting some of the longest songs on the record first, it’s not keeping the listener in for very long.

This song is beautiful, though. Very well done.
Rating: 9/10
Favorite Lyric: “I lost myself and I lost you too/And I still get trashed, honey, when I hear your tunes”

God Knows I Tried
This is another melancholy slow song. I love it, though. The melody is so well structured and I’m in love with the chorus. The guitar strumming is so calm and collected while also having such a haunting feeling to it. This feels more of something that could’ve been pulled straight from Ultraviolence.

There’s a bit of manipulation to the vocals and it adds a real effect to it. The first real highlight of the album for me.
Rating: 10/10

Favorite Lyric: “Sometimes I wake up in the morning to red, blue, and yellow skies/It’s so crazy I could drink it like tequila sunrise”

High By the Beach
The first single from the album, and by far the most radio friendly I’ve ever heard from Lana Del Rey. The chorus is infectious, the verses are cocky and she just slides through the verses. A fantastic choice for the first single. This attracts eyes to her from everywhere. Pop listeners, alternative listeners. This brings in people from outside her fanbase and keeps them in with beautiful trap production and a chorus that is impeccable.
Rating: 10/10

Favorite Lyric: “Through the fire, we’re born again/Peace by vengeance, brings the end”

Freak
This MUST be a single. I can’t say this enough. Everything about this song is wonderful. There’s smooth production, intricate lyricism and one of those choruses that’s a complete earworm without being obvious about it. There’s something so epic and catchy about it, but it’s not the first choice to jump at for a single.

For example, I wouldn’t advise this as the first single. “High” was the perfect introduction. “Music” is a fabulous second. But “Freak” should come next. We’ve been introduced to the album. Now it’s time to let this song shine.

If she ignores this song and doesn’t give it the treatment it deserves to have, I will write a complaint. There are certain tracks that highlight an album perfectly and give the listener a want – nay a need – to listen and “Freak” is one of them.
My favorite song on the album.
Rating: 10/10

Favorite Lyric: “Screw your anonymity/Loving me is all you need to feel like I do”

Art Deco
This feels pulled from Born to Die or Paradise. The production is soft trap, with an echoing effect on the vocals that just sets a mood. This is what I expected out of the slower tracks and this is where they should be placed. After the hype has started, in the middle of the craziness.

A true highlight of the album.
Rating: 10/10

Favorite Lyric: “A little party never hurt no one/That’s why it’s alright”

Burnt Norton (Interlude)
This is what I feel “Honeymoon” should’ve been, but instead of putting it toward the middle-end of the album, it should be at the start. Don’t stop the hype that’s going on. “Freak” and “Art Deco” are pulling people in, making them want more. They want more songs that make them feel like getting in an old convertible with a man they probably shouldn’t, driving on into the sunset.

That’s what I’ve felt with her previous albums. And that’s what we should feel here. I mean, the album itself is called Honeymoon. Keep the romantic flavor going! Don’t stop for an interlude when you’ve just had two amazing tracks back to back.

This feels completely unnecessary and out of place, but’s pretty.
Rating: 3/10

Favorite Lyric: “If all time is eternally present/All time is unredeemable”

Religion
This is another slow song, and it’s appropriate here. There’s a steady percussion going in the chorus and her voice sounds angelic (no pun intended, I swear). This is the song that I’ve been waiting to hear from Lana. It feels like all of her albums mixed into one track. There’s the production heavy area of Born To Die, the beautiful string arrangements of Paradise, and the haunting vocals of Ultraviolence.

This is what I felt like she was going for with this record and I’m really happy with it.
Rating: 10/10

Favorite Lyric: “It never was about the money or the drugs/For you, there’s only love”

Salvatore
Haunting and desperately loving, “Salvatore” is our next track and while I love the verses so much, I can’t get past that chorus. Lana is basically adding some Italian and then saying some random words. You know those parodies of songs where they just say “la la la red dress la la la pale moonlight”? That’s what she does here. It works, though. It adds to the haunting, ghostly feel that this song describes.

This feels very “Italian Mob movie-like”. This could be one of the songs on the soundtrack or score to a big mafia movie.

It’s not necessarily a filler, but it kind of is. It doesn’t really add anything other than a simple feeling. We don’t get a connection to the rest of the album, and if we do, I’m missing it completely.
It’s a beautiful ballad, though.
Rating: 8/10

Favorite Lyric: “Everything looks better from above my king/Like aquamarine, ocean’s blue”

The Blackest Day
From the title, I can tell that this is going to be a depressing song, but the sound that we get is something completely bigger. It’s not just a depressing song: it’s agonizing.

The chorus drags, but in a way that makes you feel what she’s feeling. She wants to get up and move on, but she keeps getting pulled back down. This is the melancholy of Ultraviolence without that filler feel that that album brought on. Her voice has this groan, this pain to it that it literally transcends.

A highlight of the album for sure.
Rating: 10/10

Favorite Lyric: “It’s not easy for me to talk about/A half-life in lost dreams”

24
This song just rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t really serve a purpose. It evokes a feeling, but it suffers from Ultraviolence syndrome. It’s extremely repetitive and has such a generic production to it that I almost feel the need to skip it.

Sorry, but this may be one of the worst on the album.
Rating: 4/10

Favorite Lyric: “If you lie down with dogs, then you’ll get fleas/Be careful of the company you keep”

Swan Song
As this song began, I really thought we were going to get another “Born to Die” or “Blue Jeans” epic jam. And you know what, I was kind of right. It isn’t up to par with those songs, but it comes very close. There’s such a majestic air to this track that I just love. It’s beautiful and I’m in love with it.

This would just be an amazing closing song. It will leave the listener with such a feeling so strong that it can’t be ignored. It’s not a catchy, single-worthy song that will get immense radio play and make her millions, but it’s a beautiful ending track.

A big highlight.
Rating: 10/10

Favorite Lyric: “Darling, dive deep and dark blue suede/Rushing up from the water where the ice meets”

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Lana Del Rey has said that she likes summarizing her albums with a jazz song. And that’s great, but why does it have to another Nina Simone cover. She covered “The Other Woman” on Ultraviolence and that didn’t really do much for the record. It fit with the album’s motif and whatnot, but it felt like a bonus track. This time, though, it just seems completely out of place at the end of the record.
The sound of it, the way it’s produced. I just doesn’t have the somber, dark feeling that the rest of the album. Nina Simone was praised for putting her all into her music, for using her voice to make her listeners feel what she was feeling. When you do a cover, you have to keep in mind the original and what its intentions were. And if you wish to deviate from that, especially putting it as the final track on your album, please make it cohesive with the rest of the tracks. Don’t make it stick out like a fire in a gasoline factory.

I just wish that if Lana wanted to end the album with a jazz song, she’d make it her own. Nina Simone is a classic artist, a true legend, but come on, Lana. It’s like beating a dead horse. We understand that you’re trying to summarize your album, but don’t alienate it. At the very least, release this as a standalone single instead of the last track on your album.

My least favorite on the album.
Rating: 3/10

Favorite Lyric: “And then sometimes, again, it seems that all I have is worry/And then you’re bound to see my other side”

I absolutely loved Born to Die and Paradise. Ultraviolence suffered from repetitive song syndrome, but had some really stellar standout tracks. This album, though, is just confusing.

For one, what are we supposed to surmise from this collection of songs? What is Honeymoon supposed to mean. Typically, a honeymoon is that moment of height and bliss that comes directly after a wedding. The time when nothing can really break you down. Which is why it’s completely contradictory to the tracks present. In a way, you could view it as being ironic, almost like she’s saying that this honeymoon period is the time without her man who left, but even then, what’s the point of songs like “24”, “Salvatore”, or “Religion”? Why do we see her talk about a man that she loves so much, only to have him gone again the next track?

What I’m trying to say is that this album feels more like a playlist of random Lana Del Rey songs that we’ve already heard, rather than a cohesive album of songs that will bring us to a blissful land away from the craziness, like the hype or the title suggests. Ever since it was announced, this album has been hyped to no end. And for myself, someone who loves Lana’s music, I was excited to hear this album; to experience this new era of her musical career.

I think what Lana Del Rey needs to do is take a moment to really understand the level of fame that she has. She isn’t some small indie artist that could get away with releasing an album as half-baked as this one. She is a chart-topping award winning artist with an extremely large following. She can’t just say “screw it” and release a group of songs pushed into a tracklist that doesn’t really flow.

Sadly, this album is still going to top the charts. It’s still going to sell because her fans will buy anything she puts out. I’m not saying that these are all bad songs. There are a few screw ups (“24”, “Burnt Norton”, “Honeymoon”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”), but all in all these are good songs. They’re just not put together as well as they could’ve, especially with the resources and powerful influence that Lana has.

I really wanted to love this album, God knows I tried, but it just didn’t reach the hype.

Credits
Photo Courtesy of Neil Krug