The tease is at last over. Lana Del Rey has announced the official title of her forthcoming fifth album, and it isn’t Best American Record. Instead, Del Rey is taking it the Iggy Pop route by calling it Lust for Life, which seems a bit tongue in cheek/ironic for the queen of the macabre. And yet, don’t you see, it is those with the greatest sadness about life that have the greatest reverence for it?
With a mercurially weird backing soundtrack that opens LDR’s black and white announcement, a person walking through the shrubbery headed toward the Hollywood sign encounters red strawberries that stand out amid the B&W tableau. If Del Rey is going by the conventional symbolism, the presence of the berries are meant to represent hope and virtuosity, which Del Rey appears to be angling for during “these dark times.”
It is then that we ascend into her perch in the Hollywood sign, where we can see her puttering about from the window of the “H.” Channeling her very best Elaine Parks (Samantha Robinson) from Anna Biller’s The Love Witch–a film Del Rey easily could have been cast in–Del Rey persists in taking us on her latest witchy journey with a serenely eerie persona that is both soothing and unsettling.
As she explains the process behind her album’s creation, LDR asserts, “You know, in this town, an artist really needs a lot of space when they’re trying to create something special. A place to cultivate a world of their own far away from the real world that’s around them. Luckily for me, I live right inside the middle of the ‘H’ in the Hollywood sign. And this is how I spend most of my nights, perched high above the chaos that swirls within the City of Angels below.” Wielding a globe as though it’s her precious plaything, Del Rey then heads to the window as a floating telephone (the kind you might have seen in the 60s, of course) orbits around her.
Picking it up in her hand, she continues, “Now don’t get me wrong, I love to dip my toe into the muck and the mires”–an homage to Jim Morrison, no doubt–“of the city every now and again, especially on Tuesdays. But truthfully, when I’m in the middle of making a record, especially now when the world is in the middle of such a tumultuous period, I find I really need to take this space for myself, far away from real life to consider what my contribution to the world should be in these dark times.” Once again proving that her detractors were wrong in assuming that Del Rey would never have it within her to get political, the chanteuse is clearly answering the call to arms that is modern existence.
Pensively expounding, “So each morning, I have the luxury of asking myself: what shall I cook up for the kids today?,” she puts her hands in prayer mode. “Something with a little spice?” she asks conjuring a pot in one hand. “Something with a little bitterness, but is ultimately sweet?” At this, a quartet of symbols including The Weeknd’s signature XO emblem and the moon (Del Rey’s go-to right now) materialize. “Or shall I take the day off and turn down the fire? And just take a moment to send my love to them over the ether?” An electric charge emanates from her hands. “Because sometimes, just being pure of heart and having good intentions and letting them be known is the most worthy contribution an artist can make.” She dots the space above her with little moons and then makes them disappear. “So even though these times can feel a little bit crazy, they’re not so very different from what other generations have experienced at one time or another before. Amidst all the uncertainty and as we transition out of one era into another one, there’s no place I’d rather be then smack dab in the middle of Hollyweird”–though it is an image of the Statue of Liberty that flashes onscreen as she says this–“making this record for you. Because you and the music and this place are my love, my life, my lust for life.”
In her very best impression of a teacher, she then scrawls Lust for Life on a chalkboard, flashes us a knowing smile, wanes into that ether she was talking about before and leaves us with the chalkboard floating in space with a diner-y alien font that says Coming Soon next to it. Del Rey, being a 60s girl at heart, has thus taken it upon herself to get undercuttingly political–which is exactly what the original The Twilight Zone was.