Lana Del Rey’s highly anticipated new album, "Chemtrails Over the Country Club," was released on March 19, 2021. Not only is the title of the album intriguing, but the album cover draws interest as well: it is black and white and rather retro-looking. The album covers the range of a few genres: indie, alternative rock, and what has been deemed “folktronica,” a relatively new genre that mixes themes of folk music such as acoustic instruments with electronic beats and rhythms. Folktronica was popularized by one Taylor Swift through her albums "Folklore" and "Evermore," though it is important to note that she did invent the genre.
Perhaps Lana Del Rey is taking notes from Taylor Swift’s 2020 successes, for their genres match—and the timeline certainly adds up. Regardless, Del Rey is a success of her own and should be analyzed as such.
The title track of Del Rey’s new album features interesting natural sounds (like car keys jingling, a singing brook, splashing water), her deep and angelic voice, and her classic swing into higher notes. It is undoubtedly classic Lana Del Rey—reminding your ears of her old hit “Ride.”
Many of the lyrics in this new album allude to her past—both her younger life experiences and old flings and romances. For instance, in “White Dress,” she sings, “Down in Orlando, I was only nineteen / Down at the men in music business conference / I only mention it 'cause it was such a scene / And I felt seen, mmm…” And in “Wild At Heart,” she sings, “I left Calabasas, escaped all the ashes / Ran into the dark / And it made me wild, wild, wild at heart.” It’s not surprising that Del Rey is alluding to her past in this new album, for like many, she has likely not done much in the last year.
However, the artist did receive some negative feedback last year when she wore a very improper-looking mask when meeting fans in October. She defended herself on Twitter, saying that the mask actually had an invisible layer of plastic on the inside that people could not see, and therefore it was effective.
Mask scandal or no, Del Rey has certainly been on the receiving end of adoring attention since the release of her album. The title track has racked up over thirty five million streams on Spotify—and everyone is talking about it. The album features Nikki Lane, Zella Day, and Weyes Blood. Nikki Lane is a relatively unknown pop singer, popular in the South for her southern twang. Zella Day takes inspiration from the likes of Stevie Nicks, with soulful tunes that stream into psychedelia. Weyes Blood is an indie songwriter who has performed with Del Rey in the past. All three of these featured artists have a lot in common: they’re all relatively unknown female singers whose names have been attached to “indie pop,” “bedroom pop,” and “soft rock.” Perhaps Del Rey sees her younger self in these female artists and wishes to give them a leg up in the music industry by featuring them on this album. Three features is indeed an unusually high number for Del Rey, who normally features no one on her albums.
I would fully and confidently recommend this album to fans of Lana Del Rey’s past music—for she does not sway too much from the script. I would also recommend that you add it to your romantic and driving playlists, and at least give it a chance. Perhaps it is not original, but it is beautiful.