Review: Chemtrails Over the Country Club is elegant, but nothing new


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“Lana Del Rey performing at Irving Plaza” is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lily Elwood, deputy lifestyle editor

Most artists in the music industry seem to try to reinvent themselves with each new album, working on constantly evolving and changing their style while improving their craft. Lana Del Rey, however, has proved that this is not always the case.

Del Rey’s seventh studio album, Chemtrails Over the Country Club, is as delicate-sounding as ever. It deals with many of the themes that she has always expressed in her music over the years: female fragility, loss of innocence, disillusionment with fame and the American dream, loneliness and love. Her sound and the topics she sings about have not changed much over the years, but for her, it doesn’t really matter.

Fans of other artists are excited to see their next eras, but Del Rey’s fans seem comfortable with the niche that her music falls in. Her music is able to stay consistently relatable to her fanbase, and Chemtrails Over the Country Club is no exception.

Del Rey begins her album with the song “White Dress,” a reflection on her life before she became famous. She sings about her time waitressing and brings in her growing frustration with constantly being in the spotlight. “I felt free ‘cause I was only 19,” she sings in a whispery voice. The album begins slowly, with “White Dress” used as a storytelling device and a way for Del Rey to flex her vocal range.

Things pick up with the song “Tulsa Jesus Freak,” which adds more harmonies and layers while also introducing the Americana vibe, which Del Rey injects into all of her projects. 

“Sing me like a Bible hymn / We should go back to Arkansas / Trade this body for the can of gin,” she sings. 

This song stays the truest to Del Rey’s style, evoking memories of her Ultraviolence era.

An important lyric in this song is “no more candle in the wind.” While many of her other albums have revolved largely around her failed relationships and her toxic relationship with men in general, this line makes an important statement: Del Rey is no longer quite as fragile as she used to be and not so easily manipulated. She has reached a point in her life where she feels stable.

Although her sound is quite beautiful, with her voice floating over simple instrumentals, some of the songs become difficult to differentiate. Songs like “Let Me Love You Like A Woman,” “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” and “Breaking Up Slowly” are all beautiful songs in their own right, but they are part of the more muddled middle of the album. 

However, “Dark But Just A Game” defies this. The song changes midway through from the guitar and piano to a simple beat and then back again. The way it switches up in the middle is what makes this a standout song.

The meaning behind it is also deep, making references to other artists who were swallowed by their fame and came out worse because of their career. “Wе keep changing all the time / The bеst ones lost their minds / So I’m not gonna change / I’ll stay the same,” she sings, making it clear that she won’t lose herself to the pitfalls of fame. 

The album ends on a pretty strong note with “For Free,” featuring the talented singer-songwriters Zella Day and Weyes Blood. The song is poetic and simple, with the harmonies and features doing most of the work to make this song stand out. 

In the shadow of her last album Norman F-cking Rockwell, Chemtrails Over The Country Club is a little disappointing because of its lack of variety. Many of the delicate, lilting songs have little differentiation between them, but the songs that rise to the top are certainly nothing to be overlooked. It may not be her best work in the eyes of fans, but Del Rey still produced some beautiful music.