What they don’t tell you when you’re in junior high and high school (in addition to the fact that life will only either get worse or sustain its status quo of badness unless you’re a nerd who can make a remarkable jump in your life’s trajectory) is that being moody and morose isn’t a good lifelong look.
Lana Del Rey, who has made her career out of the “I wish I was dead” thesis statement, seems to be gradually becoming aware of this. As June 21st marks her thirty-second birthday (Father’s Day 2015 appropriately marked her thirtieth), it’s become increasingly evident that Del Rey is aware she can no longer cling to the armor of melancholia and sullenness that once worked so efficiently as her foolproof armor.
Instead, Del Rey has opted for the “subtle” evolution toward “political consciousness”–though heaven forbid we use the term “purposeful pop” to describe what’s happening to her music. The tracks that have thus far been released in promotion of Lust for Life, “Love,” “Lust for Life” and “Coachella-Woodstock on My Mind,” reveal a far less angst-ridden tilt–indicating a far cry even from her last album, Honeymoon, which featured lamenting/devoted-to-one-man-who-will-probably-never-love-her tracks equal to those on her debut, Born to Die, particularly “God Knows I Tried” and “Religion.”
But in 2015, Lana Del Rey was still twenty-nine, the last year–one supposes–you’re allowed the childish folly of expressing suicidal thoughts and thinking it’s going to make people regard you as “edgy” and/or take you seriously as an artist and human being (then again, I don’t take any human being seriously who doesn’t want to kill himself).
Of course, in Lana’s twenties, she was urging the old cliche, “Live fast, die young,” in the narrative for her “Ride” video, but this becomes harder to execute in practice rather than theory when you start gaining access to a lot of disposable income that sort of makes you want to live and indulge a little bit longer. Hence, Del Rey’s “sudden” transformation into a woman who smiles on album covers and talks about politics in her music instead of a guy who she’s obsessed with and will never love her back in quite the same way.
Is this all part of the aging process? Succumbing to “acting right,” to knowing that no one is going to care too much when you’re in your 80s and still threatening suicide because life and love are just too much to bear? Probably. Nonetheless, I’ll likely be that eighty-something, still listening to Lana records like they possess the newness and resonance they did in my twenties. Meanwhile, Lana will have already given up music to run for office.