Skip to Content

The Listener

Great title – shame about the songs: Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell reviewed

As usual the tracks lack melodic focus and discipline, despite the occasional intelligence and melodic sweetness

7 September 2019

9:00 AM

7 September 2019

9:00 AM

Grade: B+

Get the razor blades out, Ms Misery is back. Only the truly affluent can immerse themselves in such morose and earnest introspection. Listen to the music of Africa’s most benighted countries and, on the whole, you will hear very cheerful fellows.


Not so with the USA. Lana, a middle-class New Yorker of some talent, doesn’t actually tell you in every song that she’s about to top herself, as does, say, Billie Eilish. But you get the suspicion the thought is always hanging around her pretty head.

This is her sixth album and what you get is the usual string- and synth-drenched chamber pop, plangent minor-key piano chords or a tastefully plucked acoustic guitar, agreeable profanities and, occasionally, a tune you might remember for a while. All too occasionally — more usually the songs lack a melodic focus and discipline. They disappear into the… I was going to say ‘ether’, but that serves as a decent description for the entire soporific album.

It all works very nicely on ‘Mariners Apartment Complex’, ‘Fuck It I Love You’ and ‘Love Song’. ‘Doin’ Time’ steals from ‘Summertime’ and gives a nod to hip hop, ‘Cinnamon Girl’ doesn’t steal from Neil Young and one rather wished it would.

Oh hell, there is some intelligence and melodic sweetness here, but not quite enough of either. After I’d played the album twice I had to put on some Motörhead, just to clear the air. I don’t even like Motörhead. But suddenly Lemmy seemed a rather more agreeable companion. Great album title, though. You have to give her that.


Show comments
Close