Lana Del Rey dives deeper than ever with “Blue Banisters”

Alternative singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey released her eighth studio album on Oct. 22 featuring 15 new tracks that discussed the changes that fame brings and her disdain for her past in this hour-long masterpiece.

This past year was definitely a year for change, in which Lana Del Rey was no stranger to.

Last summer, she received extensive backlash for dating a police officer, specifically because this bombshell came to light during a time in which this occupation was heavily magnified and scrutinized in the media for police brutality and a call for reform. She was then snubbed for multiple nominations and an Album of the Year win at the 2020 Grammys for her work on “Norman F****** Rockwell” (2019), despite the fact that it was critically received as one of the greatest albums released within the last decade.

Shortly after, Del Rey’s pledge for feminism and political idealisms were scrutinized, to which she responded with a notorious “Question for the Culture” post on Instagram. She asked why she was being ‘crucified’ for singing about topics that her music artist counterparts were also singing about. For ten years, she had glamorized imperfect relationships, cocaine addiction, and being a submissive woman to which had come with significant backlash from the media.

After that infamous post, she encountered many issues that impacted her career, especially her commercial performance, but above all, her public image. Many people believed her career was over, but it seemed as though these rumours proved to only be fuel to her fire. Her artistic passion seemed to take flight as she entered 2021, with a new perspective and a willingness to put more of her life into her music. 

She, with impressive quickness, released “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” (2021), which was regarded as a folk album, where she used the well-known trope of the American road trip in order to achieve self-discovery. This was a record that achieved overwhelmingly mixed reviews and was not as successful as she had anticipated. This fortunately did not stop her ability to put pen to paper.

Blue Banisters” was released on Oct. 22 and is a thorough and poetic retelling of the events she endured within the past two years and what she had done in order to grow from it and become a better person.

The official album cover featured her sitting solemnly on her balcony in Northern California, seemingly guarded by her two dogs. This was a brand new look for the singer who had sung about older rich men and troublesome relationships for around ten years. The lyrics are even a fresher take of the singer’s new image and distinguished sound.

The record opened with the simple production of “Text Book“, where she talked about her former boyfriend and realized that she was mistakenly looking for the father she wanted. Sigmund Freud is probably smiling in his grave knowing that his electra complex lives on with Lana. This song took an unsuspecting turn as she said that her uniqueness made him inadequate for her; to which she continues to heal.

Surprisingly, what she found isn’t the warm embrace of a man, but instead, it is the companionship of her girlfriends, to which she applauded on the next track. “Blue Banisters” opened with a soft piano instrumental as Lana recounted the great American road trip and reminisced on her heartbreak.

“He said he’d fix my weathered fame / Give me children, take away my pain / And paint my banisters blue… All my sisters fly to me / To paint my banisters gray.” These lines discussed the broken promises he made to her, but led into what she did in order to forget about him, or more so what the sisters did in order to help her forget about him.

Within emotional hardship, she found inner peace and most importantly refuge within the strength of her friends. This track served as an homage to the young woman she was before, when she had released her 2015 song “This Is What Makes Us Girls,” when the companionship of her girlfriends were more significant to her than the meaningless love for bad boys.

She then dove deeper into a concept that she did not expect to cover: her retreating from the public eye. “Arcadia” is a piano-driven track that served as an ode to her glamorous Los Angeles dream she must bid farewell to. For Lana fans alike, this is a heartbreaking track. She turned over a new leaf and is no longer the artist she was, but rather a ‘lost girl’ whose body read the map of L.A., the city in which she found herself and, in turn, lost herself all over again. She came back to this idea of losing herself in the track “Nectar of the Gods” with the lines “Cali-for-ni-a, homeland of the gods / Once, found my way, but now I am lost.” 

Nonetheless, “Arcadia” is a moving track that almost says goodbye to Lana Del Rey and paints a poignant picture of herself starting brand new. “They built me up 300-hundred-feet tall just to tear me down so I’m leaving with nothing and this town.” Some of the final lines of “Arcadia” referenced the overwhelming success she achieved quickly, but had to say goodbye too soon.

The album also discussed the topics she is familiar with, much like “If You Lie Down With Me”, where she swooned about being spun around like a ballerina; Lana is once more beautifully and helplessly in love. This track ends with an unforgettable arrangement of horns that force you to fall deeper and deeper in love.

Lana Del Rey released an unforgettable project that put herself at the forefront, instead of older men, or luscious Californian vibes. She gave us a glimpse into who she is as a person, her passion, and how she is looking to move forward. The record displayed her as an open book, using this album as the story of her life, more than just California vibes and cocaine. Within these 15 tracks, we listened to Lana Del Rey become vulnerable, authentic, and more mature than ever. 

Del Rey does not want to be regarded as the sad girl anymore, but instead be viewed as self-aware. She was no longer interested in the lavish lifestyle fame had brought her, no longer interested in redeeming her public image, and was tired of dealing with helpless men. She was content with the life she is making for herself and allowed for her art to be her only representative; perhaps that was why she chose an album cover that shows Del Rey sitting confidently and securely beside her dogs, on the balcony of her secluded home. 

All in all, “Blue Banisters” is one of her most personal records and is worth the listen.

This record is now available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and most music retailers.

Ivan Manriquez (he/him/his)

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