Since I left things a little open-ended with my short review of Chemtrails Over The Country Club, I feel compelled to at least offer some thoughts on her second album of this year that often felt like a Lana Del Rey song. Blue Banisters also feels like another important chapter in 2021’s saga of Jack Antonoff’s falling from favor as pop’s most reliable producer. As I emphasized in that piece as well as my Solar Power review, I still believe that Antonoff should only be employed by any singer for one album, and then the artist should move on. Blue Banisters proves this theory somewhat, as I’d say that it’s a slightly better album than Chemtrails (though it is a little long) even if the reasons for this mostly have to do with LDR’s songwriting.
What felt a little empty about Chemtrails Over The Country Club was the fact that it was written and recorded pre-pandemic and for the most part, felt like it. While it’s hard to call Lana Del Rey a topical songwriter, there is something about her cool apathy towards the state of our sun-scorched world that feels very much a product of its time. Blue Banisters makes this aspect very apparent with the first song “Text Book” with its lyrics about “screamin’ ‘Black Lives Matter’ in the crowd”. The more muted sound of the production also feels appropriate for these lyrics that are clearly the kinds of things that were rattling around Del Rey’s head while the pandemic and the heated political tensions of 2020 burned their hottest.
It makes for an album that (much like the other albums I reviewed this week), feels very direct and honest, especially for an artist whose detached wit often defines her. It’s not only in the fact that many of the songs rely on little more than a haunting piano, but also in that this feels like another album wrestling with heartbreak. LDR has such an established sound at this point that a casual fan like myself has a bit of a hard time separating the different sounds in each of her albums. While Blue Banisters isn’t a revelation by any measure, it is a reaffirmation that Lana Del Rey remains one of the best in the game if you just wanna vibe and be sad at the same time.