By Madisen Gummer
Norman F*****g Rockwell! (NFR!) is the sixth studio album and poetic masterpiece from Lana Del Rey. The fourteen track record, released on Aug. 30, 2019, yet again tiptoes the outskirts of mainstream music while bringing something fresh yet still remaining in the true essence of “Lana Del Rey.” There are echoes of storylines and musical intricacies from her first couple albums within this record, but overall a lot of growth. This album is impeccable and will leave you crying in your car on the way home from the grocery store.
NFR! opens with its title track, exploring themes of toxic masculinity and love. This beautiful, but simple song easily gets stuck in your head, with Del Rey’s undulating voice along with the captivating piano and strings. Then we travel into the honest ballad of the exploration of the self, with hints of ‘70s folk in “Mariners Apartment Complex.”
Del Rey gets experimental with her next track “Venice Bitch,” which she dropped earlier this summer. With reminiscences of psych rock throughout the song and an undulating interlude, this tale of ephemera and love is truly a masterpiece.
Next she takes us on an unapolegitic journey with “Fuck it I love you” and her incredible cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time.” Released back in May for Sublime’s documentary, it quickly became an essential song to so many people’s summer soundtrack.
Subsequently, Lana Del Rey leads us down a path of simple, but powerful tracks that express a certain degree of vulnerability that is new to her music. “Love song” is a sincere ballad of accepting the mess within a relationship, whereas “Cinnamon Girl” looks like it’s rising as a fan favorite with its harder take on the unveiled narrative. “How to disappear” offers a strong, clean beat while contemplating motifs of lost love and positionality. A wave of sad nostalgia seeps out of “California”, and it almost seems a continuation of the story in the previous song.
The last section of the record highlights Del Rey’s epic storytelling abilities and talents in creating transcending melodies. “The Next Best American Record” is another ballad with hints of simple folk, but then takes off with a beat during the chorus. “The greatest” is an unadulterated reflection of a relationship with oneself and the surrounding environment and society. It fades out with dainy piano part, leading into a mellow yet grounding song, “Bartender.” With its smooth billowing sound “Happiness is a butterfly” offers a bittersweet ode to simplicity. The record ends with “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it,” and the title sums it up. It is elegantly sad, tragically good and haunting.
Norman F*****g Rockwell! is an honest and vulnerable record that deserves all the hype it gets. Each song is a beautiful story on its own, but listening to it in order and hearing the overall storyline and fluctuations is so powerful and reinvigorates the experience of listening to a whole record. Lana Del Rey never disappoints, and she gets to put this record on the shelf of all her previous albums, ones that deliver messages and musicality that sets her apart from and above so many other artists of our time.