California pop in the age of the Beach Boys or The Mamas and The Papas was a matter of transcendence, God in the details, the miracle of the sun and the mystery of Creation. Then The Eagles and the suffering souls of Laurel Canyon were only concerned about missed opportunities and annihilated innocence, and their songs sounded the death knell, historians say, of the entire libertarian utopia.
Lana Del Rey, who made the labyrinthine heights of Hollywood the meanders of her universe long before leaving the East Coast to move in, has since made her appearance on YouTube an eminently contemporary fate at this popular naming music. protected origin, where it appears better imitated and moribund than ever before, surviving very artificially in a monstrosity patched with references, deliquescences, overconsciousness that has nothing to do with its models but much with our reality. How can one sing a California dried up to the fiber by its golden ages and its images, on the verge of fire under the double influence of the exhaustion of water tables and legends? Death in the soul, Lana Del Rey responds, singing very emphatically, but never without leaving a pout of disdain that says a lot about the ambivalence of his feeling on the issue – a pop star can not be totally dubitative about his art and his posterity.
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Also, if his music is a culture substrate passed by a thousand prisms, a thousand technologies – Chandler, Altman, Lynch, Chris Isaak, Tarantino, Dr. Dre, Instagram – she never stops saying it: in many ways, is even his only real subject. This is more than ever the case for Norman Fucking Rockwell! sixth album that twists his arm in his title to the most famous hagiographer of theamerican way of life to signify that the burning of the City of Angels – squared explicitly in songs, from Long Beach to Venice – is symbolic of the sinking of the United States in general. So from the song California, placed right in the heart of the album, to the spontaneous single Looking for America, recorded in the aftermath of the killings of El Paso and Dayton, it is an almost messianic vein which is more precise in the music much less nostalgic than it seems of Lana Del Rey, whose horizon goes well beyond Dark alleys and half-crazy starlets of Sunset Boulevard. In The Greatest, the most classicist but also the most tragic record saw, she sings her own evolution of a nostalgic typical of her generation ("I miss the bar where the Beach Boys would go") as a witness to the apocalypse ("L.A. is in flames, it's getting hot").
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Hence the difficulty of finding the senses of pleasure and displeasure that we have to listen to Norman Rockwell Fucking!, the most consciously scripted but also the most appalling of her records: Lana Del Rey is able to write black and white his political anger and love, she knows more mutant and monstrously contemporary than ever, emblem of a fatally artificial pop that doesn will have nothing to do with the music of his models, Joni Mitchell, Fiona Apple or Cat Power – as many artists of a bygone era that she looks like on the surface but with whom she knows too well that she has nothing to see. The form of Norman Rockwell Fucking! is nevertheless simple, guitar, piano, voice, thick strings, various halos of effects skillfully mixed to crystallize this not much in pop with global vocation (Jack Antonoff, who also signs the realization of the last Taylor Swift, is at the bar ). But the emotions that Lana Del Rey summons with her loaded voice and her emo words are far too twisted to move without a hitch.
The only clear feeling of Norman Rockwell Fucking!, the richest and most powerful of his albums, is a nihilism that encloses everything, love, ire and melancholy in an overall anxiety that sweeps them towards the abyss. Pop goes bad, like the world, California dives into the ocean – what's the point of singing? Despite appearances, the music of Lana Del Rey is not a cocoon, it is a poison. That one inoculates with greed, circumspect pleasure or displeasure does not change much. Behind the clips, the spirit, the concepts with the degrees of reading embellished, she keeps whispering that she is before all vain because impotent to save us, and perhaps with her the art as a whole.
Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell (Polydor).