Honeymoon, a deeply cinematic and melancholic album, is both a step towards something new for oft-maligned but always ironically loved Lana Del Rey and a step back to older musical, stylistic and lyrical tropes.

Honeymoon is deep and orchestral. It feels like a movie directed in the golden age of Hollywood with the instrumentation of any modern rap or pop album. It creates a mood of rooted longing while remaining tongue-in-cheek enough to maintain the hipster darling persona Del Rey has curated over the last four or so years. She is troubled and depressed. But there’s an undercurrent of ambivalence towards what others perceive of her and her music.

Both the first track, “Honeymoon” and the last track, a cover of the Nina Simone classic “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” address the complicated love-affair the media and her fans have with Del Rey. Both reach out to the audience and say: This is who I am and take it for what’s it’s worth. It’s an amazingly refreshing attitude for a cult-star turned pop-star to have, but then again, it’s something Del Rey has been saying since Born To Die.

However, this album is not just Born To Die 2–though it is closer to that one than it is to Ultraviolence. It certainly is a step forward, but maybe not a step far enough forward. There are some really interesting and innovative tracks found here. “Art Deco” has a breezy, laid-back trap feel that is really the perfect match for Lana’s sultry crooning. “Freak” is another track that mixes the modern and the classic; trap drum breaks and synths accompany Del Rey’s mature and knowing voice.

Honeymoon shows Del Rey’s ability to flat-out sing like no one else. Listen to “Terrence Loves You” and you hear her longing and loss spill across the expansive and dower composition. The same goes with sultry and pictorial tracks “Salvatore” and “God Knows I Tried” which both create the mood of an opening-credit James Bond song.

But then there are the lyrics. Some of them are just, for lack of a better word, silly. It’s hard to tell how aware she is of them, though she may be more aware than we might give her credit for being. Most of them are quite angsty, which is fine and a mode in which Del Rey feels very comfortable. But lines like “All I wanna do is get high by the beach, get high by the beach, get high” feel so overly melodramatic.

Most surprising is “Burnt Norton,” an interlude in which she recites from the first section of T.S. Eliot’s long poem “The Four Quartets.” It adds an odd character to the album and is a choice that is either needlessly pretentious or tellingly intelligent. Then again, she references David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on “Terrence Loves You” and once again it’s unclear whether Del Rey is a starved genius or just reaching.

With the help of her long-time producer/song co-writer Rick Nowels and producer Kieron Menzies, Del Rey has created another beautifully sad and labor-intensive album. Yes, the album is heartbreaking and impeccably orchestrated. It features the best of Del Rey’s vocal abilities and the best her aesthetic, or maybe more appropriately “brand” has to offer. Del Rey misses a chance to re-invent herself.

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