Lana Del Rey has become a hugely adored miserablist thanks to a perpetually wounded voice and plainspoken poetry. Her fourth album as Lana Del Rey luxuriates in warm textures and laconic tempos that recall pre-rock-era pop, her voice given Rick Nelson levels of reverb that adds ruminative weight to even her most basic observations. Shying away from the big riffs of 2013’s Ultraviolenceand the glossy noise of 2015’s Honeymoon, Lust for Life is almost like a fan service album, solidifying the idea of Del Rey as a trapped-in-space pop star of yore who happened to touch down in Los Angeles in the era of streaming music and sponsored afterparties.
Lust for Life recalls the gloomy pop laid down by the Walker Brothers in their mid-Sixties heyday, only with trap-era touches, allusions to modern problems and a penchant for songs that drag on just a little too long. It’s dense yet spacious, and there are surprising flourishes buried within: “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing,” on which Del Rey worries about the fate of the country, buries bachata guitars in its anxious haze.