Arts & Entertainment, Music

Lana Del Rey grapples with fame on ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’

Chemtrails Over the Country Club is abound with Lana Del Rey’s signature wry wit: The album’s title references the chemtrails conspiracy theory, adding a sinister undertone to the otherwise pleasant visual of a sprawling green country club with planes flying overhead.

The album is an atmospheric, 45-minute wash of sound that contains all the familiar components of a Lana Del Rey album: Her fragile falsetto, nostalgic perspective, and yearning for living and loving with wild abandon, all woven through with self-criticism and dolefulness.

Returning collaborator Jack Antonoff compliments Del Rey’s vocals with his understated, blurry production, reminiscent of his recent work on Taylor Swift’s folklore. On Chemtrails, Antonoff’s lo-fi sound features record-crackling that contributes to the album’s analog sound. This effect is especially prominent on the opening track, “White Dress,” which also introduces one of the album’s major themes: Del Rey’s burgeoning doubts over her fame and success. She reminisces on working as a waitress when she was 19 years old: “It made me feel, made me feel like a god / It kinda makes me feel, like maybe I was better off.”

Del Rey explores the isolating effects of fame further on “Dance Till We Die,” a track that expresses the solace she finds in the companionship of fellow female music legends Joan Baez, Stevie Nicks, and Courtney Love. Del Rey shares personal relationships with all of them, and she establishes herself as their musical successor while she continues to build her own persona as a serious artist.

Chemtrails finishes with Del Rey and featured singers Zella Day and Weyes Blood covering Joni Mitchell’s piano ballad “For Free.” While the multiple vocalists jazz up the original version with a few harmonies, Del Rey forgoes any significant changes—and for the better. Mitchell’s lyrics shine through the track and capture the essence of Chemtrails despite debuting some 50 years ago: “And I’ll play if you’ve got the money / Or if you’re a friend to me / But the one-man band by thе quick lunch stand / He’s been playin’ real good for free.”

Chemtrails is consistent with Del Rey’s past discography, and is sure to be reliable fan-fodder. However, listeners are left wondering whether she will choose to evolve stylistically or continue churning out sonically similar tracks—not that one is necessarily better than the other.

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