Norman Fucking Rockwell is a Wonderful Enigma

Liz Foster ’22

A&E Editor

Lana Del Rey has ruled the indie scene since the viral success of her 2012 sad girl anthem “Video Games” from her debut Born To Die. The album still hasn’t left the Billboard Hot 100 chart even as Norman Fucking Rockwell, Lana’s latest release, secures her role as a 2010’s icon in both popular music and culture.
Opening with Lana cooing a breathy, “goddamn, man child” on the title track “Norman Fucking Rockwell,” dismissing men with their bad poetry and even worse habits over a soft piano ballad. Next comes one of the album’s earlier singles, the cinematic “Mariners Apartment Complex” which winds guitars Working with star producers like Jack Antonoff, Lana has created an album both on brand and innovative, blending the best of her old work with the maturity that comes from years of songwriting.
“Venice Bitch” is a masterful piece of music. Lana’s voice blends over sultry guitars, giving way to a lengthy solo halfway through the song. The song mixes elements similar to the works of Father John Misty and Tame Impala while holding true to Lana’s whimsical California landscape. Another earlier single, “Doin’ Time,” a Swublime cover is a sweet and salty seaside banger that follows through on Del Rey’s blatant dedication to paying homage to her West Coast wonderland. Lana’s sticky, smoky voice coats the equally vibey and exciting guitar.
“Fuck it I love you” one half of a stunning music video duo, along with “The Greatest,” shows off the soft, vulnerable blue-jeans-and-cigarettes Lana Del Rey that made her a queen of cherry-emoji-Twitter and “aesthetic” Tumblr blog alike. The equally love-sick “Love Song” is a slower, more somber piano ballad that showcases Lana’s subtle vocal prowess. The melancholoy is tangible as strings emerge under the mournful keys as harmonies cry out “be my once in a lifetime’ and “I’m a fucking mess.”
Norman Fucking Rockwell is an indie pop journey into the mind of a true artist, one Pitchfork has even deemed one of the best song writers of the century. Certain tracks like the 1950s-esque “How to disappear” and the swelling, begging “California,” call to mind Del Rey’s earlier Honeymoon while other moments like “Bartender” recall the essence of Born to Die. Lana effortlessly crafts feelings of nostalgia throughout the whole project that mirror earlier highlights in her career. However, on the album’s final song, “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it” the songstress closes with a soulful “But I have it/Yeah, I have it /Yeah, I have it /I have,” showcasing the newest, happiest, most self-award and powerful version of the enigma that is Lana Del Rey. Lana Del Rey’s career has been an artful journey of a woman exploring different musical styles, shifts in her thematic interests, and the evolution of a more polished, professional dream-girl pop star, Norman Fucking Rockwell has arrived with a cosmic bang.