Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters

Regular price $ 48.99

If Lana Del Rey's 2021 album Chemtrails Over the Country Club felt like the atmospheric post-script to her 2019 master statement Norman Fucking Rockwell!, Blue Banisters comes off like the addendum to the post-script. Released just seventh months after its predecessor, Blue Banisters isn't too far removed from the midtempo, woozy tones that defined that album. The 15 tracks here span about an hour running time, and generally stick to the familiar framework of sad-hearted torch songs for a burning world that Lana has built her entire discography on. Closely inspecting the songwriting, production, performance, and sequencing choice on Blue Banisters, however, reveals some moments of quiet evolution. Moody, dramatic ballads like "Violets for Roses," "Living Legend," and "Arcadia" are the kind of soft excursions into melancholy that have become synonymous with Lana Del Rey, all free of percussion and centered around opulent piano chords and distant, emotionally exhausted lyrical perspectives. "Wildflower Wildfire" sounds like it could be a toned-down outtake from the NFR! sessions, and the ghostly ambience that floats in and out of the title track recalls some of the hushed turbulence that flowed throughout 2014's Ultraviolence. Throughout the album, however, Del Rey folds subtle moments of strangeness and experimentation in among her more established approaches. Four tracks into the album "The Trio (Interlude)" shows up out of nowhere, shaking us out of the dreamworld created by the first few songs with an aggressive trap beat built around an Ennio Morricone sample. It's an overtly jarring moment, but on the following track, "Black Bathing Suit," Del Rey adds a more subtle kind of weirdness into her standard sad pop, dropping samples of cawing crows into the mix, switching the beat on the choruses to include distorted, stumbling drums, and ending the song with layers of yelping, dissonant howls. Much like Fiona Apple channeled Yoko Ono's explosive vocalizations at certain points on Fetch the Bolt Cutters, songs like "Black Bathing Suit" and "Dealer" (a mostly smooth duet with Miles Kane) find Lana integrating primal, Ono-esque screaming with her more polished vocals. The vocal performances and production feel a little less polished than previous albums. Closer "Sweet Carolina" has an almost shocking intimacy to it, with upfront, imperfect vocals that sound more like a quickly recorded voice memo intended to capture an idea as it happens rather than a labored-over studio production. This unfussy vocal adds to the dream-like quality of the instrumental and makes it one of the album's sweetest moments. Much of Blue Banisters has this kind of casual, first-take energy, and functions more like a mixtape than an album as Del Rey cultivates a sustained atmosphere, but still makes room to try out new ideas and inject some unexpected moves into her established sound.

1 Text Book 5:04
2 Blue Banisters 4:52
3 Arcadia 4:24
4 Interlude - The Trio 1:16
5 Black Bathing Suit 5:18
6 If You Lie Down With Me 4:25
7 Beautiful 3:36
8 Violets for Roses 4:15
9 Dealer 4:34
10 Thunder 4:19
11 Wildflower Wildfire 4:46
12 Nectar of the Gods 4:20
13 Living Legend 4:00
14 Cherry Blossom 3:18
15 Sweet Carolina 3:22