Last Friday, to promote her latest album, Lana had a pop-up shop on the Santa Monica Pier. However, she couldn’t attend because she felt hounded by the paparazzi and escaped to a Marriot Hotel. There, she talked to fans via IG live for two straight hours, answering every question about her latest release, “Blue Banisters.”
The songstress revealed lots about her album, like how this record aims at her critics. Actually, there are only two albums she didn’t record for herself, adding that “Lust For Life” was for her fans. Though, this revelation shook fans given how personal each song was. To date, this is the most we ever knew of Ms. Del Rey, and yet she still remains so ambiguous.
“Blue Banisters” Overview
Originally named “Rock Candy Sweet,” this album sees Lana Del Rey at her most direct. It makes sense that “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” was the predecessor to “Blue Banisters” because now the sound is sharper. The instrumentation is lush and quaint, pushed further back as Lana steps to the forefront to tell her story. Vocally, Lana reaches new heights on this record. Whether she’s screaming on “Dealer” or flaunting how bad press still gets her cash on “Black Bathing Suit,” Lana doesn’t shy away from any hard conversations.
With a mixture of new and previously unreleased songs, this album sets to paint Lana how she sees fit. We learn of her past on songs like “Text Book” and “Wildflower Wildfire.” Then, we return to today with the title track “Blue Banisters,’ “Arcadia,” and “Sweet Carolina.” Through this album, we take a ride, starting from Lana’s past into her present and ending with where she’s going. Again it’s direct as if looking into LDR’s eyes. Although this album is aesthetically simple, there’s the right amount of flare, like trumpet endings, voice-modified electric guitar outros, and distortion.
It’s Lana Del Rey’s second album of 2021, and its quite literally a page-turner. Let’s go through some highlights:
The album opener, “Text Book,” finds Lana longing for connection with her father against coolly plucked stringers. The transition between verse and chorus becomes evident and intentional with a tempo and rhythm change. The sonic difference helps with digestion and clarity. Soon, she connects the dots between her new lover and dad, “You’ve got a Thunderbird, my daddy had one, too.” It becomes clear that her familial connections were never strong. “Text Book” is literally a textbook into her past and how she applies it to current love, going as far as to change her hair to rekindle romance. Although she quivers for most of the track, the chorus, for how much she wails towards the end, finally sees Lana raising the blinds.
“Arcadia” sees the 36-year-old artist scorn the industry that built her up only to destroy her. “They built me up three-hundred feet tall just to tear me down / So I’m leavin’ with nothing but laughter, and this town /Arcadia,” she sings. It’s a starry ballad for Lana, with a solemn piano leading into a cinematic and atmospheric chorus. Her voice hits a new peak each time the strings and piano swells. During her IG live, Lana said it’s her favorite song from the record. And, when the upturned chords chime at the end, it not hard to guess why. It’s honest.
Black Bathing Suit
Crows open the track, rushing off. “Black Bathing Suit” is probably the defining track of “Blue Banisters”. Here, the singer contemplates a relationship during quarantine, wanting them to look at her soul rather than her black bathing suit– the only thing that fits her. Each section has its distinct sound. “He said I was bad, let me show you how bad girls do / Cause no one does it better,” Lana presses in the chorus as the lazy beat adds sibyls and more steady drums. However, this track also takes off in many directions. Again, Lana gleams into her relationships, “So I’m not friends with my mother, but I still love my dad / Untraditional lover, can you handle that?” Soon, she’s screaming, fighting through the instrumental; and backing vocals, tackling her naysayers, “Your interest really made stacks,” over and over again.
“Thunder”, a previously unreleased track, is straight from her Paradise-era. Strings wind down on her repetition, “Just do it, don’t wait,” as she rolls from light guitar to more lackadaisical drum and steady maracas. The song captures beautiful harmonies and layering as she puts the love on her boyfriend, though she wants the relationship over before he hurts her. Soon, she’s in a falsetto, climaxing into a “you’re on fire / you’re on fire.” “Thunder” is a perfect example of how Lana works, fitting old songs into a new narrative. And, it still sounds cohesive and brilliant.
The first half of the track follows Lana on a soulful piano, bearing her wounded past. “Wildflower Wildfire” explains more of her troubled past with her parents, “My father never stepped in when his wife would rage at me / So I ended up awkward but sweet / Later then hospitals, stand still on my feet”. Her word choice is striking, further isolating her mom from the picture. The chorus has little reverb: “I’ve been runnin’ on stardust / Alone for so long / I wouldn’t know what hot fire was.” But, soon, the production leaps into distorted punches, revving up to Lana’s last belt for the song, leaving her parents a message: “It’s you from whom I learn, learn, learn”.
Again, another piano introduces the first lyrics on “Living Legend”: “Blackbirds will sing in the same key / As you play in the shoes that I bought you.” The song is an ode to Lana’s longtime friend, Jane Powers, written in 2013. Soon, a simple guitar adds to the piano. However, for how simple the acoustics remains, the message is strong and sweet, “You are my living legend.” It’s for this reason that it stands out. But also, the outro is unpredictable. Lana Del Rey distorts her voice to mimic an electric guitar, seemingly asking “Why?” repeatedly. Sonically, the blaze is ear candy, the ribbon atop the present, showing that Lana has production chops to turn around a seemingly serene sound without losing its essence. It’s a powerful question, a powerful ending, for a simplistic song.
Lana Del Rey doesn’t plan on touring and will continue to write. But, at least we have the music! Soon, she wishes to publish her second poetry book, “Behind the Iron Gates – Insights from an Institution.”
Do you enjoy this album just as much as we do? Let us know in the comments!