Lana Del Rey dismantles the idea of the ideal American dream on her fifth album “Norman F****** Rockwell” one song at a time. For those who do not know, Norman Rockwell was a painter in the 20th century known for his depiction of everyday life in small-town America. In a sense, he captured the American dream through his paintings. For his name to be the title of this album, Del Rey is implying that this album is like one of his works but with a twist. Del Rey is known for her nostalgic aesthetic and lyrics that I am sure has made the majority of us cry a time or two.
Although the majority of critics have not taken her seriously as an artist until the release of this album, Pitchfork recently gave “NFR!” a 9.4 which is the highest album rating they’ve given in five years. On top of that, it is the highest Pitchfork rated album by any solo female artist this decade. Pitchfork calls the album “elegant and complex…Lana Del Rey sings exquisitely of freedom and transformation and the wreckage of being alive.”
The album has Del Rey’s classic nostalgic sound of a generation that clearly has a piece of her heart. The accompanying lyrics are emotional and compassionate. While listening to the album myself, at certain points, I found myself reminiscing over memories that were nearly out of my head. Del Rey has a certain talent of making these connections to a culture that feels deeply personal. It makes the listener feel like they are connected as well. A popular theme in these lyrics is a woman who is falling apart and the woman is in pursuit of what she describes as love, which ends up falling apart too.
Del Rey opens the album cursing at her lover demanding that he grow up, she later croons, “You act like a kid even though you stand six-foot-two … self-loathing poet, resident moral, can you know it all?/You talk to the walls when the party gets bored of you But I don’t get bored, I just see it through/ Why wait for the best when I could have you?” As she recognizes that she could have the best, she just wants to settle for this “man-child” that she so desperately wants to keep around. Del Rey goes above and beyond with her storytelling in her work. Her imagery makes the listener feel like they are in the same spot as she is while the music is playing.
“NFR!” is pure raw emotion. Del Rey reminds us that it is okay to feel vulnerable while trying to figure out life and how love is supposed to work. “NFR!” is not the white picket fence with the husband and the dog, but it is something that is more than that and it is worth giving it a listen.