Chemtrails over the Country Club is the hotly anticipated latest album from the queen of the indie scene Lana Del Rey.
This release from Del Rey takes a different turn from her usual over-dramatized and almost caricatural performances, into something more subdued and personal. Such a change in vibe could be risky, however, for Del Rey it has had a huge payoff, with Chemtrails being one of her best albums to date.
It would have been difficult to follow an album like Norman Fucking Rockwell, but because of this newfound subtlety and experimentation, it makes it very difficult to compare the two - just that they're both good albums.
One of the clear themes throughout this album is the concept of escapism and looking beyond fame. This comes to light almost immediately with album opener 'White Dress.'
With this track we also see another change Del Rey has made, this time in her vocal register. We're used to her low-pitched, sultry vocals, but 'White Dress' and across many of the other tracks on Chemtrails Del Rey takes her voice pretty much as high as it can go.
This new register also adds a bit of imperfection to her voice, simultaneously dainty and gritty, which perhaps adds to the concept of escaping and not living this perfect life that many assume comes with her fame.
'White Dress' also sets the standard of the instrumentals being far simpler on a lot of these tracks than we're used to, with just a piano to balance her soft vocals. However, this is similar to many of the other 'lockdown' era albums that we've been seeing so maybe it's not that surprising after all.
The concept of running away and living away from it all runs through the album in tracks like Let Me Love You Like a Woman which opens with the lyrics "I come from a small town, how about you? /
I only mention it 'cause I'm ready to leave LA" Wild At Heart and Not All Those Who Wander are Lost.
It seems that the American Dream as presented in Del Rey's previous albums has been shattered, and she no longer wants to get 'High on the beach' but is taken by the back-country of the USA.
However, Chemtrails is not all necessarily one note. 'Dark But Just A Game' starts slow but eventually presents us with a thumping bassline which counteracts the subtleties of the acoustics in other tracks, bordering on a funk sound. For this reason, it acts like a stand-out on the album, as something acts as a midway between this new sound and previous releases.
Then, we see even more experimentation on 'Dance Til We Die'. Again, Del Rey enters a funky and almost jazz-style moment. It adds a more upbeat energy to the album and simultaneously feels misplaced and well-needed, which ironically, Chemtrails feels as an album in Lana Del Rey's discography.
Overall, Chemtrails over the Country Club feels overtly intimate, and much like the musings that one might write in a diary for only you to see, but Del Rey is sharing it with the world. Don't expect to see a repeat in this style for Del Rey, as her next release is likely to go back to her performative ways. However, it was a nice breath of fresh air in Del Rey's discography, and many fans will appreciate the candor musings that are being presented.