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.
Much love xx