Album Review: Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell

By Jessica Jones, Copy Editor
[Polydor/Interscope; 2019]
Rating: 9/10

Key tracks: “Norman fucking Rockwell”, “Fuck it I love you”, “Cinnamon Girl”

The long-awaited and much anticipated Norman Fucking Rockwell is finally here – rejoice! NFR is the sixth studio album from singer-songwriter, Lana Del Rey, the loveable and angsty indie-rock artist. Lana has been teasing fans about the release of this album since mid-2018 when she released “Mariners Apartment Complex” and “Venice Bitch”. With her fans hungry for more, she continued to post the occasional snippet of new music on her Instagram throughout the year. 

Read more: Album Review: Rico Nasty – Anger Management

The 14-track album follows the traditional Del Rey themes of money, drugs, sex and falling in and out of love. She sings about her homesickness for New York and gives listeners a glimpse of what life in California, a place she once longed for but now seems to fear, is like for her. Opening track “Norman fucking Rockwell” begins with the alluring sounds of rich violin and gentle piano before dropping the world’s biggest truth bomb lyric: “God damn, man child / You fucked me so good that I almost said I love you.” What better way to start an album? Once again, Del Rey allows us to peek inside her dream world, where life is simultaneously full of sorrow and celebrations. 

Each song on the NFR album is divinely produced, and the carefully placed electric and acoustic guitars transport the listener as if they are right there with Del Rey and producer Jack Antonoff as she writes and sings her songs. There are no features on NFR, which makes the album feel extremely personal.

Rather than continuing with past album motifs, Del Rey chooses to do something a little different this time around, taking the opportunity to set the record straight and expose her true feelings. In “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it” she sings “Don’t ask if I’m happy, you know that I’m not / but at best, I can say I’m not sad,” leaving the whole “Summertime Sadness” label in the past. 

The single “Fuck it I love you” reminds listeners that Lana is still the same old girl next door that we all fell in love with years ago with heavy-hitting lines like, “If I wasn’t so fucked up I think I’d fuck you all the time.” Fans of Lana’s unreleased material will recognize the style of “How to disappear”, as it draws similarities from songs like “Television Heaven” and “Prom Song gone Wrong”. “Cinnamon Girl”, another intimate track, details the struggles Lana has with a lover who is addicted to drugs. However, this lover is also one of the few people she feels safe around: “But if you hold me without hurting me / you’ll be the first who ever did.” 

So much can be said about the multi-dimensional world that one is immersed in while listening to Lana Del Rey. Through the years, Del Rey has consistently managed to tweak her sound each time she releases a new album, and NFR follows this trend. Norman Fucking Rockwell is Honeymoon’s and Ultraviolence’s sexy love child, making it an absolute work of art; it is Lana at her finest. Norman Rockwell, the album’s namesake, painted pictures of everyday American life and shared them with America. Del Rey is doing the same, singing from the heart and painting pictures of herself – sometimes at her most vulnerable.

Listen here:

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