On March 19, Lana Del Rey released “Chemtrails Over The Country Club,” her seventh studio album. With Jack Antonoff returning as a producer from her previous album “Normal Fucking Rockwell!,” Lana continues her signature style of melancholic vocals and delicate background instrumentals throughout the album’s 11 new tracks.
The 70s singer-songwriter influence that encapsulated “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” also continues on in this new album, and is most notable in folk-style tracks like “Yosemite” and “Tulsa Jesus Freak.” Both tracks invoke the broader theme of the album: a struggle with the idyllic American dream in the fragility of today’s America.
The titular track, “Chemtrails Over The Country Club,” goes about representing this theme of fragility. The song’s chorus contrasts American suburbia with the imagery of chemtrails, the focus of many conspiracy theories, in an attempt to mimic the idea of so many being blissfully unaware of recent cultural events. Lyrics like “there’s nothing wrong contemplating God / under the chemtrails over the country club / we’re in our jewels in the swimming pool / me and my sister just playin’ it cool,” reflect on luxury and American idealism, as well as being in conflict with the ideals, or beliefs, of those surrounding you.
This center conflict continues on in the song “Dark But Just A Game,” where Lana sings about how fame often ends in tragedy, with those encapsulated by fame going into dark places. Within the song, Lana attempts to come to a resolution to avoid a similar outcome: lyrics like “so I’m not gonna change / I’ll stay the same/ no rose left on the vines / don’t even want what’s mine / much less the fame” show her struggle, and seemingly her promise, to deflect from the dark games that come with fame and notoriety.
Another stand-out track on the album is “Breaking Up Slowly.” The melodic tune features country music singer-songwriter Nikki Lane and focuses on a difficult and tumultuous breakup. The song references the relationship between country music artists Tammy Wynette and George Jones, and their subsequent divorce.
Lane sings, ” I don’t wanna live with a life of regret / I don’t wanna end up like Tammy Wynette,” which Lana follows with, “Georgе got arrested out on the lawn / we might be breakin’ up after this song / will he still love me long after I’m gone?” Through these lyrics and the remainder of the song, the two women attempt to draw the line on where they stand on maintaining toxic relationships.
While this idea is solidified with lyrics like “it’s hard to be lonely, but it’s the right thing to do,” it is far from Lana’s earlier albums, where she seemingly romanticized domestic abuse. For example, in her 2014 album, “Ultraviolence,” she sang lyrics like “he hit me, and it felt like a kiss,” and incorporated similar dark themes. The juxtaposition in the lyrics of “Breaking Up Slowly” against her previous songs shows Lana’s growing relationship with America and personal fragility, as she’s slowly distanced herself from the claims that she’s continually glamorized domestic abuse.
Overall, “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” is introspective in nature and exemplifies the compelling disposition Lana is famous for. Her vulnerable reflection on personal fears and growth makes for an outstanding album filled with poetic lyrics.