The self-described "Lolita lost in the hood"/"Gangster Nancy Sinatra" is at it again, with her 4th proper studio album Honeymoon. Seen as a fusion of Born To Die and Ultraviolence by the fan base, this album has seen the [only "real"] single, "High By The Beach" reach a peak of #51 on the Hot 100 (It could've been #7 had some bitch not pointed out an "error" in calculation.)
Here's how my review will work. All of the tracks will be judged individually; cohesion will determine the grade of the album later. Obvious factors like singing ability and the instrumental of the song will be included as well.
# of tracks- 13 (this is the standard U.S. edition I'm reviewing.)
# of interludes- 1
Total time of album- 65:06
Interludes will be acknowledged with an "( I )" next to the number of the track that has the interlude.
1. "Honeymoon"- Things for this album kick off with the title track which was released as a promotional single months before the album dropped. In between then and now, the melodrama in this is still signature Lana. Granted, the song's lethargy is an acquired taste (Meaning you've had to have been into LDR from the get-go or have a really good friend explain her "edge" on any of her albums until now).
Yet again, a song that has Lana singing any lyric with "blue" in it is to be a delightful expected treat.
2. "Music to Watch Boys To" - The 4th collective single/last single released before album release day, this particular cut is relatively upbeat (For LDR mind you.) The structure might come across as some of her most repetitive, but considering this is the sort of "peppy ennui" that made her noticeable from the jump, the lucid atmosphere services it just fine.
In other words, it's better off as an album cut but it sort of makes sense as a promotional single.
3. "Terrence Loves You"- The 3rd collective single/2nd promotional single, this song hints that Lana's vocal direction reflects being self aware. Keep in mind; I personally love a good majority of Lana's recorded material. Her singing skills even in recorded material are really limited but very emotive.
This song is self-actualization/her vocals being at some of the most pure/not overly ambitious they've ever been. Lana isn't the most technically gifted singer, but tracks in recording like TLY proves emotional depth can hold its weight when used properly.
4. "God Knows I Tried"- The opening instrumental to this cut give a sort of fusion between Kill Bill and the theme song to True Blood [this by no means is the weirdest opening instrumental in an album, but even by LDR standards, this is "kooky"]. The overall vibe of the song sort of acts like a "part II" to "Ride" from Paradise. GKIT is certainly atmospheric and deliciously bombastic and in a way proves that the fan base was on to something with the "BTD meets Ultraviolence" theory.
5. "High by the Beach"- More or less, the one true single from this album. It's certainly one of the trippier LDR tracks to have ever been serviced for radio/single status. Coming some time after the title track, HBTB has Lana's vocals presented in some of its most "pop" form. It certainly has more than enough replay value and is essentially cemented as one of LDR's standout songs.
6. "Freak"- "Endless summer", "California", "wanting it to last forever", a lyric with "blue" in it...sorry, I was going through the standard LDR song checklist. -_- Despite some cliche elements making its way in, "Freak" does at least score points for its escapist vibes.
Yet, by this point on the album I thought "This is more psychedelic than some of the cuts that made it to Ultraviolence..." This much lucidity and atmosphere could read as ethereal and ennui-ridden, but the instrumentals/production read way more psychedelic than the album brief could've called for.
7. "Art Deco"- From the opening lyric centering on a female figure that means well but is a touch...fucked up, this song is sort of the unintended continuation of "Carmen" from BTD. Then, the chorus takes a weird as fuck turn when at one point the lyric "...you're so ghetto..." is sung. -_-
The vibe was killed once that line was sung [as if the line "...you're so Art Deco..." wasn't terrible enough]. I guess something from BTD needed to be resurrected. Sadly, it was a "National Anthem" case as it's a song by LDR that...just kind of sucks. Conceptually, "Art Deco" seemed promising, but the rest of the song disproved that so effectively.
(I) 8. "Burnt Norton"- Incidentally, the singer that's often been called "cinematic" has been overdue for an interlude on an album. There's no real singing on this interlude so make of this what you, the listener want to.
9. "Religion"- This track has a bit less atmosphere than the other songs so far, but once atmosphere is removed from consideration...it kind of reads as a needless "aftermath" to "Shades of Cool" from her last album [or "Blue Jeans" from BTD depending on interpretation]. By now, her longing vocals are consistent and disciplined even if at times there are some high notes that seem a bit...not strained but just a smidge over-ambitious.
A personal gripe? 5:23 is a bit lengthy for a tepid re-tread with serviceable but not the most stellar recorded effort.
10. "Salvatore"- A surprise buzz single released mere days before the album, this song is a bit...surrealist. That's a nice way of saying it's especially batshit weird to have ended up with Lana. There's some Pagliacci/sad clown instrumental realness and it's...certainly experimental.
Artistically, this is a creative side to LDR probably not explored in depth before now. As a song? It's certainly a standout, even if the standout reason is "soft ice cream" sounding like the most downer shit LDR has ever sung. Still, it's an artistic choice that needs to be respected.
11. "The Blackest Day"- At a running time of 6:05, this is the longest song on the album ["Cruel World" from her last album still wins LONGEST at 6:39]. Here's a ProTip from a Lana fan to the casual listener trying out her music: the trick to making it through a LDR album is being in a specific mood before listening.
In other words, get comfortable if you're just casual; some LDR tracks will feel like they last for 40 fucking hours.
The song itself is a "Blue Jeans" re-tread as her "baby went away" and that life sucks without him. At the very least, the production on this track does reinforce the BTD/Ultraviolence fusion sense the fan base got from the title track and HBTB.
12. "24"- The good news? There's cohesion by this point in the album; something Ultraviolence struggled to maintain by the end of that album. The bad news? "24" is kind of a mediocre LDR song. It isn't in the wastelands next to "Million Dollar Man", but "24" is just barely serviceable to a unique recording presence like Lana.
At the very least, cohesion matters with an album so by now any money spent on this album is worth it for the mood sensitive productions alone.
13. "Swan Song"- The beginning of this instrumental did have me worried that this would veer into a full on "Summertime Sadness" re-tread. Thankfully, it didn't go in that direction and instead offered more delectable escapist vibes. A gripe on this song? The run time at 5:23 doesn't make sense for this cut. Cut roughly 1:30 off of it, and it'd be more casual.
Other LDR songs of past and present can get away with long run times due to their captivating qualities; "Swan Song" doesn't totally have captivating qualities.
14. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"- A cover of a Nina Simone original...maybe inspired by The Animals or the multitude of others that have covered it. With Lana, this take on the song sounds...what's a nice way of saying something sounds like a funeral for the most conflicting figure in your life?
The thing about Lana covering other songs? It's happened once before and beautifully with "Blue Velvet". "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" in the context of LDR should read as one of the more emotionally gripping/haunting iterations of the song.
In this case, it kind of falls flat. The mood wasn't ever established properly with this song and it is disheartening that Honeymoon did close on kind of a blase note.
OVERALL Grade: B-
I was so close to giving this a solid C. Reasons including but not limited to, "Art Deco" and "24" just being less than passable cuts from her; songs that although intended on fusing her previous eras thus far, kind of gave inadvertent re-treads of those eras; the run-time reading less cinematic/conceptual and more arduous/slogging on some of the tracks.
However, what saved the worst grade possible for Honeymoon is that it did find something of a total cohesive experience. The escapism/ennui ridden vibes helped the album seem less taxing this time around. Also, Lana's vocals are at their most disciplined/realistically presented in recorded material.
In terms of best song(s), it's easily "High By The Beach" followed by "Terrence Loves You".