Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life wraps itself around a simple, perhaps uncharacteristic idea: despite the chaos in the world, we have each other, and the choices we make can help us find eternal happiness.
Of course, eternal happiness isn’t what jumps to mind when considering Del Rey. Previous albums — such as Ultraviolence and Born to Die — relish in dark, complicated themes that often border on the risqué. They range from complicated lovers to getting high, along with struggling to find herself; ideas that Lana Del Rey’s music wouldn’t be complete without.
In Lust For Life, her lyrics become more aware of the world and how Del Rey views it. She steps back from her own experiences, layering messages directly to her listeners in her songs. For instance, in her second leading track, “Lust For Life (ft. The Weeknd),” she sings, “ ‘Cause we’re the masters of our own fate / We’re the captains of our own souls / So there’s no need for us to hesitate / We’re all alone, let’s take control.” She tells her fans that they are the only ones who can change their life’s path. This track — and her album as a whole — show her growth as an artist; Del Rey has confronted the realization that she should be confident in making her own choices.
Despite the novelty of Del Rey’s new sense of maturity, her message itself also gets muddled — particularly because the album sags under the weight of 16 tracks. Songs like “Cherry” or “White Mustang,” which are both undoubtedly very strong tracks alone, but which trend toward Del Rey’s previous albums’ styles, interrupt the flow of new ideas Del Rey is incorporating into her music.
In recognizing her maturity, Lana Del Rey’s rise in popularity has brought dramatic changes in her life — pressures she isn’t afraid to address in her music. “13 Beaches,” for example, is an anecdote tracing the numerous attempts Del Rey has to make before finding a beach to visit in peace. Del Rey smoothly juxtaposes her feelings of isolation and hurt caused by paparazzi within the context of the song.
Lust for Life, in a departure from her previous records, features a wide spread of collaborators, including The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon. “Summer Bummer” — which features A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti — balances her soft-spoken, vintage, youthful timbre against the dense rap verses of A$AP Rocky. It’s a musical gamble that pays off and demonstrates her ability to diversify her musical niches.
Not only is the theme of Lust For Life relevant to Del Rey’s journey to discover her own happiness, but also to society’s potential to thrive by better supporting those who are marginalized. In reaction to the current administration’s threatful stance on women rights, the track “God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It” takes a different approach to patriotic songs and how they show pride for the country they represent. She sings, “God bless America and all the beautiful women in it / May you stand proud and strong / Like the Lady Liberty shining all night long.” In this song, she empowers women all over the country and encourages them to stand their ground despite the adversity they face in both social and political climates.
Lust For Life fluently tells of the instances Del Rey has struggled, yet eventually settles on how she wants to live her life. Her lyrical transformations and her musical risks all contribute to how this album affects Del Rey inside and outside music.
In her closing track “Get Free,” Lana Del Rey sings, “I never really noticed that I had to decide / To play someone’s game or to live my own life / And now I do, I wanna move / Out of the black (out of the black) into the blue (into the blue).” Life is a learning curve, but Lana Del Rey posits that it’s the decisions we make that ultimately impact our motivation to improve and prosper.