Lana Del Rey smiles tentatively on the cover of her fourth album, her hair adorned with bright daisies. That’s a change from her default mode of waifish inscrutability. The subtle reinvention extends to the music. Lust For Life isn’t quite the sound of an artist ripping it up and starting over — it does, however, see the ‘Video Games’ singer stepping outside her well-worn persona of Laura Palmer-esque lost soul. For the first time she seems at ease in her stardom — and curious about the creative possibilities it offers.
The makeover is especially vivid on the title track, a sinewy hook-up with The Weeknd, and co-written by pop provocateur Max Martin.
The LP is brimming with other cameos. Stevie Nicks is quintessentially arch and mysterious on ‘Beautiful People Beautiful Problems’. Sean Lennon, for his part, has never sounded more like his father than on ‘Tomorrow Never Came’.
The cordite whiff of cynicism elsewhere surfaces on ‘Groupie Love’— a collaboration with A$AP Rocky in which Del Rey satirises starry eyed fans offering themselves to the nearest celebrity. That isn’t to say the retro Del Rey of yore has been scrubbed entirely for existence. The epic ‘Heroin’ references Charles Manson and on ‘Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind’, Del Rey appears to suggest the hippy dream has a new home in the the southern California pop festival so beloved of the a-list.
The biggest twist is the unambiguously political ‘When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing’, with Del Rey posing the withering teaser: “Is it the end of America?” That’s a question for Donald Trump. What Lust For Life makes clear is that, for Del Rey, the future is bright.