‘Blue Banisters’ album review

Ash Anders, Radio DJ

Lana Del Rey’s eighth studio album “Blue Banisters” was announced in April 2021, but not released until October 22nd. This album is haunting and beautiful but features some weaker tracks that unfortunately all sound pretty similar. The strong tracks though are magnificent and easily show the creative genius of Lana’s lyrics, as well as her vocal power. 

Text Book: The opener for this album starts slowly with Lana’s usual slow vocals, but opens up about halfway through with a halftime breakdown in the percussion. The change in the instrumentals definitely improves the overall tone of the track. 

 Blue Banisters: Even though this namesake track follows the theme of the album and indeed sounds as morose as the “blue” in the title, it’s a pretty forgettable song. It has Lana’s signature sound and lyrical significance, but it’s slow in more than just tempo. She drags her way through the lyrics like they’re the only source of emotion in the track, despite the fact that her instrumentals alone can be strong enough to make a difference, such as her previous track West Coast from her album “Ultraviolence”. 

Arcadia: This track is my favorite on the album with gorgeous instrumentals and Lana’s incredible vocals. Her lyrics, especially “All roads that lead to you as integral as arteries that pump the blood flow straight to the heart of me”, are both poetic and kind of heartbreaking, which gives this song such a strong foothold as the strongest on the album. 

Interlude – The Trio: Despite being named interlude, the third track of the album is still a show-stopper. This instrumental-only track includes a brass melody with an artfully crafted bass line that would create some serious boom on a good sound system. However, this track really stands out from the rest of the album, and not necessarily in a good way. 

Black Bathing Suit: Opening with the sound of crows, this track is very different from the previous “interlude”. The chorus of this song includes another halftime breakdown, but the lyrics aren’t as weak as in Blue Banisters. In the pre-chorus, she sounds a little bit like older Taylor Swift when she purposely slows her singing to say one word at a time, but it still manages to be an enjoyable song. The last minute or so of the song is a little odd, especially with her vocals changing from singing into some sort of talking. 

 Album Cover for Blue Banisters by Lana Del Rey.

If You Lie Down With Me: this track is very pretty and melodic, but not necessarily memorable. Lana seems to have a habit of using the same key or chord structure in her songs that make them enjoyable without truly standing out from the rest of the album. The horn outro is a nice touch to this track, as well as her stronger and happier sounding vocals, but it is still somewhat of a boring track. 

Beautiful: The piano opening of this track is reminiscent of older ballads, and her delicate singing supports it very strongly. The rhythm of this song is probably the strongest feature, though the chorus gets very repetitive very quickly and makes the end of the track nearly unbearable with how it drags the tempo out in direct contrast to the rhythm she sings during the verses.

Violets for Roses: This track includes strong vocals with lowkey instrumental tracks. The lyrics “with their masks off” references COVID-19, but doesn’t make it the point of the track. The lyrics themselves are about changing yourself in a relationship and are very meaningful. Lana’s choice to repeatedly emphasize her vocals over the instrumental tracks in this album also helps to emphasize her poetic lyrics, though in some songs they’re weaker than in “Violets for Roses”. 

Dealer: This track has a very different sound than the rest of the album, opening with lowkey percussion and male vocals. Lana comes in about a minute in with extremely strong vocals. The lyrics in this track – “Why can’t you be good for something? Not one shirt off your back,” – are pretty powerful and definitely portray the strong emotion that is usually connected to Lana’s music. Though it’s a little repetitive, the track is unique enough that it’s still a great listen. 

Thunder: “Thunder” goes back to Lana’s signature melancholy sound. The soft guitar before the first chorus makes the song seem sad, but the instrumental change later in the song certainly helps to lighten the tone of the track a slight bit. Unfortunately, this track also succumbs to the repetitive nature of the other tracks but makes up for this with the rhythmic instrumentals and Lana’s strong vocals. 

Wildflower Wildfire: This track has a really cool title, but doesn’t quite sound the way you might expect it to. It keeps with Lana’s typical whisper-singing and has a very nice piano sound. However, it’s still repetitive and not as gravitating as previous tracks in the album. 

Nectar of the Gods: The instrumentals of this track are very laid-back and certainly remind you of a “less is more” energy. The lyrics, especially “I used to sing about people like you but now I just get high”, show the carefree attitude of the song without sacrificing a good sound. Though it isn’t necessarily an emotionally appealing song, it’s very delicate and beautiful. 

Living Legend: This track is a typical slow, pretty song that can be expected from Lana. With melancholic lyrics and a beautiful piano track, this song is very similar to many of the others on this album in that it’s pretty but forgettable. 

Cherry Blossom: “Cherry Blossom” includes Lana’s whispery vocals and shows off her higher range nicely. However, when Lana sings like this it’s hard to understand exactly what she’s saying when you’re not entirely familiar with her singing style. However, this track is once again very pretty – especially the piano track. 

Sweet Carolina: Lana’s vocals are stronger in this track, and the piano takes a step back to emphasize her vocals. The lyrics “if things ever go wrong just know this is your song” are very sweet and make this one of the top tracks on the album. Her high range is shown off in this track, and her voice is honestly beautiful, similar to in “Arcadia”. 

“Blue Banisters” welcomes back Lana’s signature sounds and lyrics, as well as introducing new sounds in tracks like “Arcadia”. Though the album itself is a little repetitive and mellow, the tracks are still beautiful. Since the tracks mostly blend very well together, this album has a pretty good re-listen value as well.

Spinnaker rates this album 3 out of 5 sails. 


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