EE: Norman F*cking Rockwell!, the sophisticated and timely sixth album of artist Lana Del Rey is, in my opinion, a masterpiece and her best album to date. I am a Lana superfan, but until NFR’s release this past August, no album of hers quite reached the level of her first, Born to Die. Norman F*cking Rockwell! is the pain of intimacy and the intimacy of pain. It is a break-up with the American Dream while still remaining in deep love. The rugged yet childish nature of men (and America) is incredibly sexy and hopeless. There is an addictive quality to the nostalgia of this album and a timelessness that borders on mysterious. Enjoy, Maddy.
MA: The timing of this Something Borrowed couldn’t have been worse, as I was headed straight for my period when I took up writing it. My emotions were heightened, so it was dangerous for me to dive right into such an iconic album like Norman F*cking Rockwell!
Taking the top spot on our “Albums of the Decade” list back in December, I now see why it did. It’s potent, it’s strong, it’s romantic, it’s warm and so much more. I loved listening to it, but I also had some qualms.
I think Lana Del Rey is crazy talented and a brilliant musician, but this album is not quite my style. When I’m sad, I can’t listen to slow pianos with the angelic voice of a beautiful woman. It makes me feel too vulnerable.
I wouldn’t choose to listen to this album on my own because it makes me too sad. However, every track is powerful. The album is so powerful that it creates too many emotions in me, that I can’t listen to it. Maybe next time I’m deeply enveloped inside my bag, I will tune into this album again.
Some stellar tracks were “Cinnamon Girl,” “Doin’ Time” and “Happiness is a Butterfly.” I already loved “Doin’ Time” by Sublime, so when I first heard this song, I had high expectations. Del Rey killed it with this song, and I immediately fell in love with it. I heard “Doin’ Time” prior to Ethan recommending this album to me, so I was very excited to dive into the rest of the work.
Del Rey’s version of “Doin’ Time” is a refreshing, upbeat tune to compliment the somber notes echoing throughout the rest of NFR. Her voice brings a feminine quality to the track, and she spruces up the entire song by making it delicate and airy. It takes on a totally new meaning when she sings it. I also admire how she keeps the sentiment and vibe of the song in tact, even through her total revamping.
In “Cinnamon Girl,” Del Rey’s voice takes on a different quality. It’s still soft and ethereal, but it has a little more punch to it. She’s pouring her heart out in the entire album, but I really feel it coming forward in this track. Del Rey is hurt and she’s trying to heal, and she’s coming from a place of vulnerability with this album. I also love the end to “Cinnamon Girl;” after the lyrics are over, we are left with this lively, pulsating beat. It’s incredible.
I am now noticing that I find myself very drawn to her relationship tracks, which are open, serious and tender. “Cinnamon Girl” and “Happiness is a Butterfly” describe the hurt caused by unhealthy relationships, and her sensitive manner makes me feel exposed. It’s like she came right for my heart and made me look at my sadness in the mirror. It’s very unguarded, which makes it hard-hitting and authentic.
“If he’s a serial killer, then what’s the worst/ That could happen to a girl who’s already hurt?” was my favorite lyric in all of NFR. I don’t know why, but I just felt that so deeply. I feel like I’ve lived that line.
Del Rey’s voice is as smooth as butter and so light, it literally floats in the air after I play it out loud. It sits inside my ear drums and makes me want a hug. This is the kind of thing I’d play to get a rowdy infant to sleep, with its lullabic qualities. It’s also what I’d play to put me to sleep after crying.
Some other highlights of NFR were the “ooh’s” in “Happiness is a Butterfly,” and that fact that I’d pay at least a million dollars to have Lana Del Rey laugh at me the way she laughs towards the end of “Bartender.”
I give this album a 4.5 out of 5, since it resurrected all my buried emotions and started healing some traumas I’d repressed.