Since we started following her career with the release of “Video Games”, Lana Del Rey has had her fair share of detractors. What people can’t say is that this artist is not putting in the work, Norman Fucking Rockwell! Is her sixth(!) studio album since 2010. Released over a year ago, the first sounds most listeners heard from Rockwell was the nearly ten-minute single “Venice Bitch”. It narrowly missed our top ten favourite tracks of 2018, the long song never drags and includes the lyrical earworm “bang bang kiss kiss”. Released at the same time, “Mariners Apartment Complex” is one of the best here, commenting on helping a friend in their time of need with Del Rey relating “you lose your way, just take my hand”.
Many tracks here reference California including one named for the state that references Lennon/Ono that your personal war is over if you want it to be. “Fuck I Love You” was the last track written for the album that says California is just a state of mind, your problems don’t leave you just because you’ve moved. “The Next Best American Record” sounds the most like classic Del Rey and recalls the aforementioned “Video Games” in her lyrical inflections. “The Greatest” is a track that Amy Winehouse could have sung. A classic sounding song with modern lyrics – “I’m wasted… the culture is lit and I had a ball”
Master producer Jack Antonoff co-produces many of the tracks with her but it’s Lana Del Rey that’s the master as she carries many songs with minimal accompaniment, some with just a spare piano and her voice. A few tracks in the middle could easily have been sung by any decent pop singer but songs like “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have – but I Have It” could only be done by Del Rey. Featuring several of her best songs, this may be her strongest set of music to date.