ADRIAN THRILLS: She's hardly a Del Rey of sunshine
LANA DEL REY: Norman F*****g Rockwell!
Verdict: Flawed brilliance
Lana Del Rey's deliciously dark persona is so persuasive that even the British weather once seemed to fall under her spell.
Playing Glastonbury five years ago, she opened in glorious sunshine before clouds began to billow ominously behind her.
By the time that she had finished singing, the skies above the Pyramid Stage couldn't have been gloomier. The queen of sad pop was wearing a brightly coloured psychedelic dress, but the imminent storm was fully in keeping with the air of doomed romance.
It's essentially the same old song on her fifth major album.
The mood is downbeat and nostalgic with piano, guitar and retro-sounding strings providing the backdrop to smoky tales of messed-up girls, bad-boy lovers and Old Hollywood glamour.
Lana Del Rey's new album Norman F*****g Rockwell!
contains a downbeat mood which is nostalgic with piano, guitar and retro-sounding strings providing the backdrop to smoky tales of messed-up girls
‘I dream in jeans and leather,' she sighs early on, before embarking on a series of ill-starred adventures.
By the time the album ends, more than an hour later, she looks to have hit rock bottom: ‘Spilling my guts with the Bowery bums is the only love I've ever known.'
Quite how authentic all of this is has always been a matter of debate.
Born Elizabeth Grant, Lana was raised in a middle-class household in upstate New York.
But the good-girl-gone-astray character is one that she has played with increasing conviction as her focus has shifted to California, where her new album is set.
She brought out the Born To Die album in 2012 which proved a massive success.
Lana has used the good-girl-gone-astray character with increasing conviction throughout her career
There's also enough here to suggest that the woman who once styled herself as ‘the gangster Nancy Sinatra' is coming of age.
The album is named after the American artist whose illustrations once graced The Saturday Evening Post magazine.
Despite the unnecessarily crude title, it's her most nuanced yet.
Love Song is beautifully sung. How To Disappear is a swooning doo-wop lament. On Mariners Apartment Complex, she claims her sadness is taken ‘out of context'.
Lana Del Rey performs during the 2019 Buku Music + Art Project at Mardi Gras World on March 22
Like Taylor Swift's Lover, released two weeks ago, this was produced by Jack Antonoff.
And, like Lover, it's too long. But, while Taylor crammed in too many tracks, Lana tends to meander within individual songs that outstay their welcome.
As with a new Quentin Tarantino film, part of the fun with a Lana Del Rey album lies in trying to spot all the knowing references.
Homages to classic rock abound, with the Eagles, Beach Boys, Neil Young, The Mamas And The Papas and Led Zeppelin all getting a look-in.
The album ends on a surprisingly witty high. Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have — But I Have It sees Lana sending herself up on a droll piano ballad: ‘Don't ask if I'm happy, you know that I'm not, but at Best Private University I can say I'm not sad.'
Norman F*****g Rockwell!
is flawed, but its maker is on a roll. She's back for a tour that should be one of 2020's big tickets. The gigs are indoors this time — but perhaps take a brolly for the trip home.
Lana Del Rey starts a UK tour at The O2 arena, London, on February 25, 2020 (ticketmaster.co.uk).