It has already been a busy year for Lana Del Rey. Late 2020 saw the release of her poetry collection Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass and its accompanying spoken word album, earlier this year we got her seventh studio album Chemtrails over the Country Club, and now less than four months after that release, we’re getting another LP from the former Lizzy Grant: Blue Banisters.
Originally titled Rock Candy Sweet, Del Rey’s eighth studio album will be the newest addition to the prolific singer-songwriter’s discography. The three new tracks are the album’s title track, ‘Text Book’, and ‘Wildflower Wildfire’.
The entire Lana Del Rey story up to this point will make a fascinating biopic one day: New York boarding school, attempts at early success under the names May Jailer and Lizzy Grant, adopting a noir aesthetic with the new moniker Lana Del Rey, viral infamy with her performance of ‘Video Games’ on Saturday Night Live (which isn’t bad at all, for the record), refining her style and sound with each new release, peaking with the wonderful Norman Fucking Rockwell!, occasionally saying stupid things in a public forum, having intense media scrutiny follow her. It’s all classic pop diva narrative, and it only serves to solidify her place as a mainstream superstar.
As for the new songs, they’re… fine. I was fairly underwhelmed by Chemtrails over the Country Club, despite – or perhaps because of – being a huge fan of Norman Fucking Rockwell! Most of the sprawling sonic experimentation found on the latter was replaced by simple piano balladry on the former, and while it had its high points, Chemtrails began to wear out its welcome when it became clear that every song was going to sound pretty much the same. ‘Tulsa Jesus Freak’ and her cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘For Free’ are fantastic, though, and I’d put some money on Chemtrails being viewed as an underrated gem in the future.
I was hoping that the new songs from Blue Banisters indicated a return to the ambitious boundary-pushing of NFW!, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The tracks aren’t too muted as to be Chemtrails outtakes either. Instead, what we get is some classic smokey, noir-tinged tunes, especially on ‘Text Book’, which is about as representative of Del Rey’s signature style as any of her songs up to this point. What Blue Banisters adds to the overall story of Lana Del Rey will be interesting to witness, but the bigger point is that we’re starting to talk about Del Rey in terms of career narratives, not just individual releases. Soon we’ll be in legacy mode, and every new release will have more intense scrutiny attached to it. The good news is that Lana Del Rey appears to be at her best when under scrutiny.
Listen to the new tracks below. Blue Banisters will be released on July 4.