In Review: Lana Del Rey - ‘Chemtrails over the Country Club’

Where Norman Fucking Rockwell! sounded like a dying bugle call for the 'American Dream', ‘Chemtrails over the Country Club’ feels like Del Rey now wants to desperately clutch on to that forgotten world of innocence, suburbia, and naivety.
Posted: 28 January 2021 Words: Sam Barker

Following on from ‘Let Me Love You Like A Woman’, ‘Chemtrails over the Country Club’ is Lana Del Rey’s second single from her forthcoming album of the same name, finding Del Rey harking back earlier works, melodically, whilst keeping a toe in the sonic world of the acclaimed Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Over a building instrumental track, Del Rey flows between being lost and “on the run,” lazing back and enjoying a life of privileged normality “wearing … jewels in the swimming pool,” and looking forward at what’s to come – where there is either much more waiting for her, or something less about which she opines, nonetheless, “maybe we’ll love it.”

It’s a confused track, one that contains as much certainty within its lyrics as it does its cohesiveness as a song. Del Rey sings about suburbia, white picket fences, and the titular “chemtrails over country clubs” with longing and nostalgia so powerful that she finds herself living it out. Mundanity and blandness get swept up into the waves of meaning: “Washing my hair, doing the laundry/ Late night TV” all become synonymous with a forgotten world of innocence, suburbia, and naivety. It’s fitting that Del Rey is quite starkly enunciating this naivety, as she contrasts images of luxury and privilege and wealth with suburban icons of the so-called ‘American Dream’, as she falls prey to the same trapping and short-sightedness. Norman Fucking Rockwell! felt like a dying bugle call for the American Dream, sending it off into the mist with an acknowledgment of the realities of modern life, but ‘Chemtrails’ feels like it wants to desperately hold on. 

Indeed, ‘Chemtrails over The Country Club’ feels like a song cut from NFR! for the lack of care and consideration it contains. It attempts to capture the instrumental length and authority of standout NFR! track, ‘Venice Bitch’ (which runs well over nine minutes without ever overstaying its welcome), but never quite matches those heights. 

Where Lana Del Rey succeeds, however, is in making a song of such implicit conflict that could have been something much greater, incredibly listenable. Jack Antonoff’s production so complements Lana Del Rey’s voice and writing as to elevate what could have been merely mediocre into something so inescapably ‘Lana Del Rey.’ Yes, it does fail to do much, and it does look inwards too much. There’s a sense of navel-gazing and an attempt at artistic expression of self that forgets that the self exists in the presence of others. When Del Rey sings “I don’t care what they think” it’s difficult to remove it from the valid criticism she’s been receiving over the past year - and she doubles down on it by wearing the now-infamous mask in its accompanying music video. But there’s still hope that she’ll couple this with some of the brilliance of NFR!, and at the least make some incredibly listenable songs anyway.

Chemtrails over the Country Club is out on 19th March via Interscope Records and Polydor Records.

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