Published Sep 25, 2015Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey's follow-up to her 2014 album, Ultraviolence, is at times brilliant and occasionally boring, a record that moves and morphs, taunts and mystifies, like the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland. Strings swell on the titular opening track and then Del Rey's voice, dark and deep like a goblet of blood-red wine, fills in. "We both know that it's not fashionable to love me," she says, deadpan. It's a perfect opening line, particularly for those looking for a way into understanding Del Rey's self-awareness as an artist.
But there are limitations to the complexity of Honeymoon's music. Many of the songs share repetitive orchestral elements, which makes 14 tracks feel bloated — less so, though, if one treats Honeymoon as a concept album, a 66-minute Quaalude-and-wine dream musical that spans the history of Hollywood and 20th Century cinema (every song makes some reference, big and small, to pop culture), and centres on a tormented love affair, a la Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
The album's best track, "High By the Beach," is the most interesting song sonically, employing more beats and rolling drum fills, and shows the most attitude, lyrically: "You could be a better motherfucker but that don't make you a man." It's the rare moment where Del Rey really comes alive and breaks through the veneer of her own making. A very pointed cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" brings the record full circle. It's equal parts earnest entreaty, elegantly weary fuck you, and knowing Mona Lisa-like smile — a perfect encapsulation of Honeymoon and Del Rey's enigmatic art. (Universal)