It’s been one year since we were told to stay home. One year since we could lounge at the park with our neighbours, and one year since we could go to ice-cream shops with family and friends.
Like most things in the world, life stopped when the pandemic started. In the music world, for many artists, that meant delaying the production and release of their works.
On March 19, 2021—one year since this new normal started and rumours began—singer-songwriter Lana Del Reyreleased her seventh studio album, Chemtrails over the Country Club. The cover depicts Del Rey with her lifelong best friends, each person smiling around a checkered cloth-covered table, donning 1970s-inspired outfits, presumably longing for an idyllic past.
Del Rey’s newest album embodies her sincere lyricism and melody, and blends each together to create a meaningful emotional experience. The five-time Grammy-nominated artist couldn’t have released Chemtrails Over the Country Club—an album about nostalgia, reminiscing about the times shared with loved ones, and confusion about where life is heading—at a better time.
Comprising eleven tracks, the album thrusts us into Del Rey’s iconic falsetto, introducing us to her “Country Club”—a place to escape to when we need family or friends to comfort us. “White Dress” starts off the album with nostalgic sounds of summer—dogs barking, roller blades whirring on the pavement, and wind chimes clinking in the breeze.
We fall into Del Rey’s breathy tone as she recounts her younger years, when she was surer of herself, happier, and more confident as a waitress in a flowing white dress. As the song progresses, the verses end and the choruses begin, her voice giving way to the faint piano. When Del Rey returns, she’s still quiet, still comforting, but a little more powerful.
The title track, “Chemtrails over the Country Club,” intensifies this nostalgic sentiment with soft piano and deep vocals. The lyrics romanticize things such as doing laundry in the bright sun or racing in a little red sports car, while the song slows and distorts like a broken record player. As Del Rey’s voice morphs, more and more unrecognizable, her gentle falsettos return over mangled instruments—this time they aren’t comforting.
“Tulsa Jesus Freak,” “Let Me Love You like a Woman,” “Wild at Heart,” “Dark but Just a Game,” and “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” all feature more of Del Rey’s gentle voice over even gentler instruments. These five tracks lead us further into our nostalgic daydream. We’re filled with both hope and melancholy—it’s sad we can’t go back to the times we felt freer, but let’s appreciate the time we have now.
From “Tulsa Jesus Freak” to “Not All Who Wander Are Lost,” the album progresses into more rhythmic styling and hints of country, with the squeaking of fingers moving across the guitar’s strings. The last four tracks, “Yosemite,” “Breaking Up Slowly,” “Dance Till We Die,” and “For Free,” only amplify the country influences.
As the album closes, and the messages within are laid bare, we experience hope. The world isn’t over. Just because we feel alone doesn’t mean we always will be. While it’s healthy to reminisce, we can’t let current troubles hold us back from floating in a swimming pool on a future summer day.
Chemtrails over the Country Club starts hesitantly, vulnerably, as if Del Rey is unsure how to feel about herself and her future. The album’s first half has dreamy pop-inspired tones, with haunting falsettos and hearty vocal cracks. Here, Del Rey layers her voice over and over, creating these rich deep harmonies like we’re listening to her in an empty theatre. Her voice is the star; the instruments are the ambience.
The second half of the album transitions to deeper, more powerful, and more harmonious falsettos. They’re entrancing. They give every single song that extra wisp of mystery—Del Rey’s own signature sound.
Through Chemtrails 0ver the Country Club, Lana Del Rey lets us enter her subconscious. The album begins with raw emotion, remembering the happier times spent with family and friends. Amid the newfound melancholy throughout, the album ends holding our hands, reminding us that our Country Club will always be there.