REVIEW: Chemtrails over the Country Club
Written by Georgia Hilton-Buckley
Lana Del Rey is an artist who embraces the ideas of eras. Her debut album ‘Born to Die’ was a commercial success, and her subsequent albums could have easily replicated this and achieved the same amount of triumph, but instead she has constantly evolved and presented us with something new. I have been a fan of Del Rey since I was a teenager and her previous album ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ is one of my favourite albums of all time, so it is understandable that I was beyond excited for the release of her eighth studio album ‘Chemtrails over the Country Club’ and it didn’t disappoint.
Del Rey has always had a distinct sound and theme for her albums, with Chemtrails tackling her opinions on fame and a nostalgia for a simpler sound. The music is stripped down compared to her previous albums and focuses on her voice rather than the background sound. The magic of Del Rey harmonising with herself while soft piano or guitar strums in the background creates an almost ethereal hippish vibe. While Del Rey has never featured many upbeat songs in her repertoire, this album maintains a steady melancholy sound that rises and falls in emotion without losing its base.
There was little promotion for this album; two singles were released prior to the album and Del Rey partook in two interviews. Her Instagram leading up to the release simply featured pictures of her and her friends rather than constant promotion for the album, and when it was released, we heard nothing from her. This attitude encapsulates Del Rey’s apathy towards the media which is replicated in the album. She’s expressed before her resentment when asked about anything besides the music, this album really gives the impression that the fame is almost limiting Del Rey in her creativity.
The influence from Jack Antonoff is obvious in this album for anyone who has experienced any of his other work, including ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’, he really polishes the sound of the piece and pushes Del Rey to her creative limits and away from the stereotype she could so easily fall into. Stand out songs include the title track ‘Chemtrails over the Country Club’ which makes me feel like a witch casting a love spell. ‘Tulsa Jesus Freak’ is another favourite of mine from the score with its repetition of ‘White Hot forever’, which was the original title of the album. ‘White Dress’ and ‘Wild at Heart’ really press the message of nostalgia for freedom upon the listener and feature a slightly different tone of voice. The song ‘Yosemite’ was supposedly originally written for Del Rey’s 2017 release ‘Lust for Life’, but was shelved in favour of more of the star studded collaborations the album features.
While personally I am a huge Del Rey fan, it seems ignorant to mention her without her recent controversies: accusations of racism and glamourising abuse. Her publicist evidently needs raise for all the backlash and media fixing they must do for her. Del Rey has frequently been outspoken and touched on controversial themes. We all joke about her obsession with older men and cigarettes, and I find it hard to forget her tweet to Azealia Banks ‘I won’t not fuck you the fuck up. Period.’. However Del Rey released an open letter last year calling out the media for blacklisting her for talking about abusive relationships within her songs, but called out many black female artists while doing so. In a recent interview with Annie Mac, Del Rey hypothesised that America needed Trump to recognise their own narcissism. I personally cannot speak for the black community, but it is important that we call artists out when they are racist, even if it is perhaps unintentional.
In summary, this album is beautiful and probably the last album we will have for a while from Del Rey, as she claims this is the first time she doesn’t know where she will go next. My flatmates will ultimately get sick of me blasting this through the walls at 2am but how could I not when we get lyrics like ‘we’re white hot forever and only God knows’
Georgia is a Third-year Politics student at the University of Leicester with an infatuation for books, particularly the classics. She is interested in feminism, philosophy, and music.