Lana gifted us a beautiful record last night, and I am dying to talk about it. We’ve had less than 24 hours with it, so these are just some preliminary thoughts & findings that I wanted to share. This is not a review; just a reaction.
This album is her most honest, political, and modern yet. Her recurring romanticism of sadness is replaced with a raw confession of not always being okay or stable, and the record ends with a commitment to move on “from black to blue.” The vocals throughout the entire album, but especially in “13 Beaches,” are the least affected we’ve ever heard her voice. After she shared in her Pitchfork interview this month that she has and will continue to eliminate her American flag imagery as a response to the Trump administration, it’s no surprise that songs like “God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It,” “When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing,” and “Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind” are a direct response to the tumultuous-at-best political climate of 2017 (with a- dare I say- feminist undertone?). Lyrics like “lean into the youth…we just want the fucking truth” are unusually current for Lana, who has thrived on nostalgia and picturesque old-American ideals. It feels almost spooky to hear her sing about today. She also carries very 2017 language into her grand, cinematic tracks, which is gorgeously bizarre. Also, it’s worth noting that this album is not what I expected. She tricked me again with the tracks she released in advance, just like “Ultraviolence” (her first single was “West Coast,” a song that differs greatly from the rest of the album). I was worried it would all sound like the title track, which features The Weeknd, and despite how much I wanted to love it, I think it’s the weakest song on the album by quite a bit. Which is strange, seeing as her title tracks are usually utterly iconic (“Born To Die,” “Ultraviolence,” etc.).
Is it the end of an era?
Is it the end of America?
No, it’s only the beginning
If we hold on to hope, we’ll have a happy ending
When the world was at war before
We just kept dancing
-“When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing”
From the cover art alone we can see that Lana is in a better place than her previous albums. She looks so genuinely happy, and chose a softer, kinder, smilier photo rather than the intense, colder portraits she usually uses. The “Honeymoon” cover gave us bright colors, and this gives us a similar color scheme with a much more genuine photo. She seems approachable, which is consistent with the increase in audience interaction we’ve seen from her in the past few months.
The third track, “13 Beaches,” is where my primary theory and biggest takeaway from the album begins. She sings that “it took 13 beaches to find one empty…but finally I’m fine.” There are 13 tracks after this one, and I think that’s where the connection to The Odyssey begins. The rest of the album is a journey, her journey, with highs and lows, clear chapters, and a solid conclusion. Her travels from beach to beach mirrors Odysseus’s travels from island to island. Including her empty one for just her, Lana searches 14 beaches total, the same amount of islands in The Odyssey. This, to me, also explained the five features on this album (The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Stevie Nicks, and Sean Ono Lennon), after never including collaborations on previous albums. I see them as her guides and mentors from the various legs of her journey. The more I listen to it with this in mind, I can hear more allusions to it in the recurrent ocean, war, and blood imagery as well as the overall storytelling feel of the record. Lana has carried literary references into her songs before (Lolita being her favorite), and we know how intelligent she is; I by no means see it as a stretch for her to have themed an album around The Odyssey.
As it stands, my favorite tracks are “In My Feelings,” “Cherry,” “Love,” and “Summer Bummer.” That is more than subject to change.
That wraps up my thoughts thus far! I definitely have more where that came from, and I may do a track-by-track review soon once I’ve had some more time to sit with it and let it all sink in.
June is, somehow, behind us! That means it’s time for another (belated) monthly favorites!! I have been so busy this month with work and prepping to travel next week, so there hasn’t been a ton of time to get into new stuff, but here are a couple things I’ve been liking!
I was so in love with “Green Light” and “Liability,” so I could not wait to hear the rest of it and it does not disappoint. “Writer In The Dark” and “Hard Feelings/Loveless” have really stood out to me, but I can’t pick a favorite. It is consistent and touching and fantastically genuine, and serves as a beautiful graduation from her first album. I love that I’m so close in age to Lorde because I can relate to her journey in such a unique way. I have so much love and respect for her and I can’t wait to keep following her growth as an artist. Also, I am so excited to buy this on vinyl when it comes out!!
This song was on my fall playlist and I loved it SO much, I don’t know how it disappeared out of my life for so long but it is back and I am thrilled. I love this entire album but this song is hands down my favorite from it. It’s literally just gibberish, but like, you understand the general vibe, you know? Also, Life Without Buildings, I know that before you broke up in the 90’s you were London-based but maybe you could get back together for one more quick reunion concert in Chicago? Just for me?
Twin Peaks: The Return
I will be writing a very lengthy article on the return when it wraps up in September, because all we have now is a small piece of an untouchable narrative. The trailers, the publicity, the social media commentary, all made this revival out to be a repeat of the original two seasons. I went in excepting bittersweet nostalgia; Cooper sitting in the RR Diner with the gang drinking black coffee and eating pie, Audrey mischievously manipulating things to her advantage, Laura Palmer’s tragic homecoming portrait with that weird eerie theme that breaks your heart a little bit more every time. Instead we have received this 2017 masterful clusterfuck, that has taken the original’s bizarreness and translated it perfectly into modern television. It is completely revamped, without losing the deeply unsettling weirdness of the original. I find myself developing a fierce and unwavering opinion on it every week just to have it shattered by the next episode. The only thing that doesn’t change is that Twin Peaks, the original, the movie, and The Return, is a masterpiece and I am in love.
I am so in love with this lip color!! It’s my ultimate go-to, I have about 3 tubes of it floating around various purses. It’s a matte peachy nude that stays on forever and ever, and works beautifully with minimal makeup and with a full face. I wear Colourpop liquid lips almost exclusively, and I have never received more compliments on a lip color than on this one.
swatch without flash
swatch with flash
So, I work at Starbucks (which is a blast and I really like it) and I rarely get into the super sweet promotional drinks but I am OBSESSED with the violet drink. Everyone I work with hates me for it, I kind of don’t blame them because it’s a weird drink, but I am so into it. Like, made my mom try it. Like, purchased it outside of my job. I love anything that tastes floral, which is weird to begin with, but it’s so refreshing and has quickly become my summer favorite. It’s the Berry Hibiscus Refresher base except with coconut milk instead of water (so like the pink drink except berry) and I would highly recommend it. I hope my coworkers don’t fight me for this.
PROS: Beautiful, 8 different settings plus dimming and brightening, remote so you don’t have to get out of bed, timer feature so I can fall asleep with them on, easy to hang, comes in rose gold so it fits my bedroom color scheme
CONS: I broke my toe because I dropped a hammer on it while I was trying to hang these up by myself (half an hour before I had to be at work, of course)
In Spookitude news, I will be solo-traveling from Chicago to Seattle on Monday and spending the week out there, and I am going to try my very hardest to vlog it, so stay tuned for that.
I thought I’d touch more on moving because I enjoyed writing about it so much last time, and it’s something I get asked about a lot.
I’ve been in my apartment now since November. My first week was magic; I wandered around the neighborhood aimlessly for hours, I built Ikea furniture with my dad, I set out a criminal amount of throw pillows. I’ve suffered from migraines, nightmares, and other pain issues for years and years, and my first night in my apartment was my first night without any of the above (which has continued; I don’t get nightmares at all anymore!). I got up every morning, soaked in the sun coming through my window, did my makeup, did my hair, put together an elaborate outfit, got breakfast from the bakery down the street or made some at home, and continued just as dreamily until bedtime. It was everything I dreamed it to be. This was the theme for a while, and only got better when I adopted my cat Beatrice. She was delightful company, someone to have sleep by my feet and claw at my hands. And somehow having another living thing in my space added a level of realness to it all; holding the life of a 6lb cat in my hands, staring up at me with big green eyes, enforced the idea that MY life was also entirely in my hands. I was responsible for it all now. I had a lot of independence growing up, but I didn’t have to go to the grocery store on my own. I didn’t have to catch my own bugs, mop my own floors, hang my own frames, set my own curfew, get my own prescriptions. It was so much so quickly, and I loved it. I soaked in the responsibility like I did the sunshine pouring through my new windows. But of course, there were moments when the responsibility was crushing instead of freeing. I remember hitting my head on a cabinet in my first few weeks before I had developed the muscle memory involved in taking peanut butter out of the pantry, and it swelled up and bruised and I was filled with the fear of what if it’s worse than I realize (it wasn’t)? What if I pass out (I didn’t)? What if this head injury kills me and no one knows because I’m all alone except for this cat (I was literally completely fine)? I was so thankful for my parents in moments like those, because I was able to call them and get the confirmation that I would not, in fact, die in my sleep and be forgotten about.
For so long, I focused on the maintaining that dreamy state. Dishes were always put away, my bed was always made and overflowing with shiny fuzzy throw pillows, my coffee table was impeccably arranged according to Pinterest’s guidelines, my makeup was polished and I never had a lazy outfit day. But with that came a lot of guilt when I wasn’t able to maintain it all. I beat myself up for having boxes around and I became incredibly anxious when friends came over, for fear of not looking like I was “keeping it together.” I wanted to prove that I wasn’t too young, too immature, too naive, too helpless to run a home for myself and Beatrice.
Meanwhile, my bedroom at my parents’ house was a disaster. I was storing my summer clothes there as well as every childhood possession I had ever owned. It was cluttered and messy and grimy, everything my new place wasn’t. My apartment had personality, but personality with a strict color scheme and decorating pattern. My bedroom at home was authentically me, for better or for worse, and it was all at once eerie and comforting to visit and sleep there among the remains of my teenagerhood. And then, after a fight with my sister, my room was gone. She had packed it up, put everything in boxes, and moved herself into it. My things were scattered to the four winds. I didn’t get a warning, I didn’t get a goodbye. The next time I visited, it was all gone. I felt angry and betrayed, and I mourned the mess of a room that it was. Even though I had a beautiful, colorful, sunny apartment in the city waiting for me, I was inconsolable when it came to the loss of my childhood bedroom. I didn’t quite understand why I was having the reaction that I was, I didn’t understand why it hurt so badly. Sure, I was upset with my sister, but that wasn’t all of it. I felt so guilty and so ungrateful for being so upset, because I know and feel how lucky I am to have my apartment, so why was I mourning the dusty cluttered room that wasn’t mine anymore?
My apartment was a perfectly arranged piece of art, that inflicted anxiety every time there was a candle or decorative knick knack out of place. My bedroom at home was a clusterfuck of belongings that I cherished for the familiarity and freedom that came with it. And now, 4 months after the demise of that bedroom, I have found a happy middle-ground in my apartment. I’ve broken my color schemes, I’ve covered every inch in art and things that make me feel something, I leave clothes on the floor sometimes (okay like 90% of the time but like still), and in doing so I have made it a home. In desperately trying to maintain the shiny, new, dreamy feeling that came with my first weeks, I wasn’t letting it become a home. A home is messy, a home is unapologetically shared with loved ones, a home has cat hair and dishes in the sink sometimes. Having a messy desk doesn’t reflect on my ability to handle living on my own. And that doesn’t mean my home doesn’t still look cute as fuck, it’s just an eclectic, personal cute now. And now finally, I don’t mourn my old bedroom anymore.
I love skincare to the point of obsession and so I thought I’d share my routine!! It took a couple tries to get it right, especially because my skin is so damn sensitive so it’ll freak out at the drop of a hat. I stick with the classic cleanser-treatment-toner-moisturizer routine and it does pretty well for me. I am not a professional or an expert by any means! I have combo/dry skin and I am thankfully not super breakout prone, and this is what works best for me!!
I use this charcoal cleanser from Biore, which also serves as a light exfoliant, when I wake up and before I go to sleep. It smells nice and leaves my skin feeling very fresh!! I use it with my Clarisonic, but there are a million cheaper alternatives to my brush (like this one from Amazon!). I prefer using an electric brush so I can feel like I’m really getting the most from my products.
As far as masks go, I use a few regularly that is just as good for my brain & anxiety as it is for my skin. At least once a week I use a deep exfoliant (scrub or something like the Hell Pore Mask or a blackhead strip) followed by a moisturizing sheet mask. I use sheet masks on an as-needed basis, whether that means my skin needs a little help or I need to de-stress a little. I tend to buy my sheet masks in bulk on Amazon, these Tony Moly ones being my favorite. They’re super easy and smell so good!! There are a couple other miscellaneous fun masks I use, but those are my regulars. I tend to only do masks at night.
I use this Dermalogica toner, and it’s the first one I tried and I’ve never strayed from it. I’d like to try out some cheaper or milder toners sometime, because this one feels and smells pretty severe and isn’t cheap, but for now it’s my go to! I feel like it balances out my skin tone nicely, as I am very prone to redness. I use it twice a day.
I use two different moisturizers, one in the morning and one at night. In the morning I use this ridiculously simple moisturizer from Neutrogena that gets the job done and isn’t expensive, and at night I use Wanderlush from Ofra. I was dying to find out what the hype was about it and when I finally tried it I understood completely. It’s a little too heavy for me to go on in the morning, but at night it’s perfect. It also works great as a primer under foundation.
For overnight spot treatment I use the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion and this stuff is magic. You leave it on overnight and in the morning the blemish is almost if not completely gone.
I literally always have a bottle of the Mario Badescu Rosewater spray on my person. I don’t know what the fuck it is, but this stuff is magic. It feels so nice, so refreshing, and I am a new person every time I use it. I’ve recommended this to so many people, it’s one of my favorite products. I also use it before and after putting on makeup as a setting spray and a way to help my foundation look fresher and dewier!
And that’s it for skincare! Upping my skincare routine has made a huge difference in not only my skin but the ritual of it has been great for anxiety, it’s really helped me. It also has made makeup application easier and I’ve definitely noticed that my foundation has had a much more flawless finish, and I’ve been using lighter coverage foundations. My routine changes once and a while, but these have been my favorite for a while. I always love recommendations, though, so if you have any send them my way!!
Oh, Harry. I’m so glad I can say that I’m obsessed with your music again (though did any of us really “grow out” of our 1D phase??). This album is so beautiful and I am crazy proud of him. I knew I’d at least kind of like this album, but I assumed it would be in sort of a novelty way. The more I’ve listened, the more I’ve really connected with it; I’d be listening to it if it was Harry Styles or not. He has done a really, really cool thing.
Lana is and always will be the love of my life, so I am always ecstatic when she comes out with new material. This song is really special; inspired by her existential crisis illustrated on her Instagram, she wrote and released this song in a month. It’s pretty consistent what she’s been releasing lately, but in a rare turn of events she’s singing about real life real time things, and the authenticity from her that comes with that is stunning. Also, my dad says it might be his favorite Lana song ever. High praise.
“Die Young” by Sylvan Esso I have been in love with Sylvan Esso since their debut album in 2014. Their style is so great and so unique, I love everything they do. This song really resonated with me, though. It 100% made me cry the first time I heard it, and I have been obsessed with it since.
Oh my GOD. So right after I started watching Drag Race my friends got me to start watching this and I can’t believe I went so long without it in my life. These ladies are so fucking funny, so smart, and are serving up Relatable Realness™with their brutally honest conversations about sex, mental health, drag culture, the movie Contact, etc. I got to see Trixie’s show “Ages 3 & Up” in Chicago last night (5/31/17) and it was incredible, she is such a force. Also, my mom saw one of their videos and made me apologize. So there’s that.
I am all about the glow rn, and this primer gives your whole face a really nice golden glow-from-within look. I have absolutely worn this on its own to work or for other casual look days, but it’s also great underneath a full face. It also feels really nice and soft on my skin, it’s very moisturizing.
Okay, I KNOW these jeans are so fucking expensive. Like, way more than anyone should ever pay for jeans. But I’d be lying if I said you didn’t get what you pay for. Originally my mom bought them and didn’t really like the way they fit her, and so she offered them to me and I completely fell in love. They come in sizes 00-24, which is rare and awesome, and never ever has a pair of jeans made my butt look so good. I carry a lot of weight in my hips compared to my waist, and so it’s damn near impossible to find jeans that fit well, but these fit really REALLY well. Mine are a size up from what I wear in other brands so they’re a little roomy, but that’s a positive for me. I’ve been wearing them constantly, and I haven’t worn jeans regularly since like 2015? So there.
Honestly there are a million and one things to do with these, if you’re into that kind of thing. I put these dudes on top of all my doorways (and windowsills, as pictured) because my apartment has really beautiful vintage ceiling moulding, and I am so into it. It doesn’t sound like a lot but I think it adds really cool character to the room. But like who doesn’t want a bag of crystals to do whatever with??