Why "Norman Fucking Rockwell!" is Lana Del Rey's Best Era

Norman Fucking Rockwell! is a masterpiece.

Lana Del Rey's sixth studio album, released Aug. 30, 2019, cements her status as an artist. While her earlier albums received mixed reviews, it seems like everyone loves her newest release.

Lana Del Rey is a character; perpetually tortured, she always falls for the wrong man. She sings of fame, drugs, money, and Old Hollywood. She lives her life for the past, for the wrong people. She is a tragedy we can't look away from, but one that has struggled to impress critics.

Perhaps the reason Norman Fucking Rockwell! is such a success is that, finally, her music has evolved to encompass not just the character that is Lana Del Rey, but the real woman behind the music: Elizabeth Grant.

On "Bartender," one of the record's strongest songs, she sings, "Baby, remember, I'm not drinking wine," a nod to her sobriety after years of alcohol abuse and addiction in her teens. She covers Sublime's 1997 song, "Doin' Time," which is far from her first cover, but doesn't quite fit her usual sound. Her newer music reflects the political climate, like "Looking for America," a single written and released after the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, one month before the album's release.

Times are changing, and her music has changed with it.

The lyrics are classic Del Rey. "Why wait for the best when I could have you?" she croons on the record's title track, proving she can maintain her sad-girl aesthetic as her music grows up. But gone are the synth pop beats of Born to Die, the melancholic melodies of Honeymoon, the hopeless tone of Ultraviolence.

She's gone from relatable to real. Norman Fucking Rockwell! is a new era, and Lana Del Rey has never been better.

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