Hot Girl Summer is officially cooling down, but that absolutely does not mean music has any shortage of exciting releases. Just as everyone is heading out of town for a temperate and relaxing Labor Day Weekend, Lana Del Rey's long-anticipated release, Norman F*****g Rockwell!, has made a quiet yet powerful debut. With its slow tempo, easy vocals, and psych-rock influences, the album is ready to enter playlists for imminent road trips and pool days before becoming a perfect background as the world eases into fall.
The album opens with its title track, which is an incredibly chill intro for a song that's quite literally called "Norman Fucking Rockwell." Fitting to the title, Del Rey is indeed dropping lines like "Goddamn, man-child," but she sticks to her trademark sultry sound, choosing to take the imperfect situation in measured, reflective stride as only the cinematic sad girl does best. The music then easily progresses into "Mariners Apartment Complex," in a transition so smooth that one would barely notice it's a different song if it were not for this one being a prior single. This is the vibe of the entire project, with remarkably similar tempos throughout and subtle evolution that reveals itself in phases over several listens. With this, Norman F*****g Rockwell! definitely belongs to the group of albums one must listen to the whole way through to get the full effect.
In a perfect coincidence that perhaps was intentional, Del Rey's album art (as we previously discussed) features her beside Duke Nicholson on a sailboat in an aesthetic that's equal parts American classic, Roy Lichtenstein, and of course, Norman Rockwell. The dramatic, comic book-like image was powerful enough to excite everyone when it came out mid-summer, and now, its sailing moods stay relevant for a long weekend of adjusting into a cooler, calmer season. The album looks and sounds perfect for a leisurely boating adventure on a nearby lake, and the powerful lyrics within its reflective, sultry sound will easily carry over into rainy days, productivity sessions, and even election season.
While on the political front, this year will be decidedly calmer than next year's presidential election, the world is still in panic amidst constant ideological divide and the chaos of climatic events like the Amazon fires, a mood Del Rey effortlessly yet poignantly speaks to through her new project. If we're slowly awaiting the end of the world, at least we can process that feeling through the new Lana album. Even if (hopefully) it turns out that the only end arriving is that of summer, the project remains a must-listen.