Review: Lana Del Rey’s ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’ is authentic and enchanting

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Photo credit: Promotional album image

Lana Del Rey released her seventh studio album “Chemtrails Over the Country Club”, produced alongside Jack Antonoff and Rick Nowels, on March 19, 2021. The album cover captures Del Rey amongst her closest friends inher most authentic album yet, captioning its release with “These are my friends, this is my life. We are all a beautiful mix of everything, which is visible and celebrated in everything I do.”

By Thea Leimone, Features Editor

Lana Del Rey‘s seventh album embraces the intimate moments of life as she incorporates new facets of the Americana theme, and ventures into new vocal choices without fear of criticism. Del Rey puts aside her M.O. of romanticized melodrama and offers a more personal and introspective plot in “Chemtrails Over the Country Club.” Del Rey lets herself go in this latest album, unafraid to show who and what she truly loves.

Born to Die” and “Paradise” broke Lana Del Rey into the music world with cinematic ballads and a unique, soulful pop. The indie blues soft rock album “Ultraviolence” was met with a positive response, while “Honeymoon” explored a world of jazz and blues and was her highest ranked album. Del Rey continued her streak of success in the music world with the hip-hop and collaborative album “Lust for Life,” which she followed with her most critically acclaimed album to date: “Norman F*cking Rockwell!” Needless to say, Del Rey has established an influential and successful career with a devoted fanbase.

 After experiencing delays in release due to COVID-19, the album, written and produced by Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey and Rick Nowel, became public on March 19. A disclaimer for any new Lana Del Rey listener: her slow, soulful ballads often require a few listens for the full impact, and as is the case for “Chemtrails Over The Country Club.”

The album’s titled song “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” was released on January 11, and it is easily the strongest track. Like many other Del Rey songs, it explores the complexities of the elite American lifestyle, talking of conspiracies in an idyllic all-American country club life: “There’s nothing wrong contemplating God/ under the chemtrails over the country club/we’re in our jewels in the swimming pool. The song builds to a crescendo of the intoxicating chorus that highlights the power and range of Del Rey’s voice. 

Other notable tracks include “Tulsa Jesus Freak,” “Wild At Heart,” “Dark But Just A Game,” and “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” Across all four songs, and throughout the rest of the album, Del Rey incorporates a strong falsetto that contrasts her typical emotive deep notes; the songs are dynamic and have an atypical upbeat vibe.

The album tells stories of escapism and a world before, free from fame: “Don’t even want what’s mine/ Much less the fame/It’s dark, but just a game/We keep changing all the time/ The best ones lost their minds/ So I’m not gonna change.”

Del Rey introduces a plethora of unusual genres from the country-style instrumental “Breaking Up Slowly” to the thematic and tempo-changing “Dance Till We Die.” It’s clear Del Rey is exploring new corners of storytelling and vocal styles, and yet the album remains cohesive in its 45-minute entirety.

Del Rey isn’t re-imagining or further exploring her persona and authenticity, as she so often has with past albums. She is now taking on her most authentic moment as an artist and woman, including “Wild at Heart” where she recounts being untamed with her lover.

While the album is commanding and sensual, it’s not quite a “no-skip” album. The lesser songs of the album ring too similar to past eras such as “Norman F*cking Rockwell!”-style, and some songs were years before or even sampled from old songs.

The album falls short with “Yosemite’s” choppy rhythm, and the mediocre “For Free,” which has a lovely harmony with the collaborators but too easily blends into the common tone of her other songs. A fair amount of songs also seem to fall short lyrically with simple, repetitive choruses. Nonetheless, the album is captivating and becomes better with each listen.

The expectations were high for “Chemtrails Over The Country Club,” and while Del Rey didn’t necessarily surpass, or even meet, them, she instead showed her fans and the public a new, authentic corner of her vocal capabilities. Lana Del Rey is telling the world that this is her, and she isn’t changing for anyone.

  • Sound Quality
  • Lyrics
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact
4.4

Summary

Lana Del Rey’s “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” explores a world in the wild and away from the dangers of fame. Del Rey incorporates a unique falsetto and breaks away from her typical low and slow tunes. It’s authentic and charming, adding yet another successful album to Del Rey’s discography.