GRAPHIC BY ELSIE MCKENDRY
After more than a decade in the music industry, six Grammy nominations, and six studio albums, it can often be daunting for artists to branch out. However, Lana Del Ray manages to do just that with her seventh studio album, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” while successfully retaining her signature style which has been described as dream or baroque pop.
Lana Del Rey is an American singer-songwriter who began her career in 2005. Her first viral hit “Video Games,” released in 2011, landed her a contract with major record labels and her career has skyrocketed ever since. “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” was released on March 19, 2021, with “Let Me Love You Like a Woman” as the promotional single.
The album starts off with the song “White Dress.” Del Ray experiments with her high whispery falsetto in the chorus, which is a sound that fans have never heard from her before. Her choice of vocals and the light and airy tone were pleasantly surprising and added a lot more depth to the song.
Del Ray uses this piano-driven track to reflect on her life before she was famous. She sings about what it was like to be a waitress in her teens and later on with her rise to fame. This served as a great way to start the album, leaving listeners immediately curious as to what would come next.
While “White Dress” was a surprise, the next song, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” felt quintessentially Lana Del Ray. It’s a soft and beautifully melodic track that immediately transports you into the atmosphere of the song. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a warm summer day as Del Ray sings, “We laugh about nothing as the summer gets cool/It’s beautiful how this deep normality settles down over me.”
She uses more of her lower register, a striking yet welcomed contrast to the previous song. Being the title track, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” had to capture the essence of the album while retaining its own entity, which it did beautifully. This track was one to return to over and over throughout the next few days.
A highlight of the album was “Dark But Just A Game,” whose verses were very stripped back with only simple percussion backing Del Ray’s vocals. This track is layered with different elements, such as a piano interlude after the second chorus and a variety of instrumentals featured in the pre-chorus that somehow work in perfect harmony with one another.
Del Ray sings about the life of a celebrity, which is a pretty common and recurring theme within her music. She expresses how she is not willing to change herself for fame when she sings, “we keep changing all the time/ The best ones lost their minds/ But I’m not going to change/ I’ll stay the same.” “Dark But Just a Game” kept the listener guessing about what would come next, which was the most unique aspect of the song.
Although this album had some amazing standouts, songs like “Wild at Heart,” “Let Me Love You Like A Woman” and “Yosemite” fell a bit flat. They all lacked individuality and fell into the shadows of others. Especially for being the promotion single, “Let Me Love You Like a Woman” lacked the “oomph” factor that some of the preceding songs had, and was not suited to represent the album as a whole.
A collaboration on the album, “Breaking up Slowly,” features American singer-songwriter, Nikki Lane. Her contributions posed an intriguing addition to the track, especially as she got the first verse instead of the second, and neither singer at all overpowered the other.
A stand-out moment of the song was the chorus where Lane’s and Del Ray’s voices sounded quite cohesive together. Lane’s voice and style of singing had some country undertones to it which was certainly unexpected, but a nice change of pace when compared to the rest of the album. As for the lyrics, the song is pretty literal in saying that when a relationship is over it’s better to break up because it’s the “right thing to do.”
Del Ray managed to surprise yet again with this next track titled “Dance Till We Die.” In this song, she pays homage to Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, and Courtney Love, legendary female singer-songwriters. The song flows in a similar way to the rest of the tracks until the bridge.
This is arguably the best and most interesting bridge on the album, as she experiments with a more rock and roll and jazz type sound. This style complements her voice very well and Del Ray could have had a whole song on the album exploring this kind of sound.
“Chemtrails Over the Country Club” masterfully creates a cohesive atmosphere that is present throughout every track. However, some songs got lost in the mix. Nevertheless, with every record, Del Ray’s vocal and songwriting abilities get better and better and it’s exciting to see her taking a risk this far into her career.