Everybody who has heard Lana Del Rey live knows that she is not the greatest vocalist out there. Yet here we are. She has gradually blossomed into a fine artist, plus she is already a pop legend. It was clear from the beginning that she knew how to sell her music, with her physical beauty and her sensual lyrics and her well-produced hits and her trademark sense of emotional candidness. Her debut LP, Born to Die, had four incredible hits—”Born to Die,” “Video Games,” “Blue Jeans,” and “Summertime Sadness”—while the others were disposable. But she has matured in that regard. Her last four albums are consummate achievements. Chemtrails Over the Country Club is no exception. Granted, Lana always showed flashes of brilliance early on. Now it’s very clear that she is an elite songwriter.
Lana boasts a sense of flair that transcends. It transcends expectation. It transcends in the way it makes you feel. And it transcends in the way that it extends to both her lyrics and the melodies within her music. She certainly knows what sounds she shines the most in. Props to Jack Antonoff (who made a name with his work for Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Kevin Abstract) for his ornate production. And speaking of Swift, Chemtrails Over the Country Club reminds me of Folklore in the way both albums signal a departure from indie pop in favor of a more chill, stripped-down, intimate vibe. The role of the acoustic guitar is greater in Chemtrails than Lana has ever used before, though Antonoff carefully tucks an array of neat sounds around the acoustic ones. My favorite songs so far are “Chemtrails Over the Country Club,” “Dark But Just a Game,” and “Yosemite.” I honestly wouldn’t consider this album among her top few best works. Still, it’s pretty impressive.