Lana Del Rey - "Love" (Singles Going Steady)

"Love" is another wistful chapter in Lana Del Rey’s songbook, nostalgic, bittersweet, and benefiting from Del Rey’s affinity for all things heartbreaking.

Adriane Pontecorvo: Lana Del Rey is more than the sum of her parts. Her voice is good, her lyrics are relatable, and her melodies are pleasant. That’s a good enough start, but it’s not what makes her special. Her hook, the reason she has such a die-hard fanbase and continues to sell album after album, is glamour. It’s in her name, her style, her videos, her music: a haunting blend of romance and tragedy, velvet and starlight, the open spaces of America and the smoky darkness of an old-fashioned jazz lounge. None of this is to take away from her raw talents, singing and writing, which are above average even in a song about such oft-repeated subjects as young love and looking back. But, as with any real star, it’s her delivery, the melancholy with which she sings that “it’s enough just to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy,” that entrances. “Love” is another wistful chapter in Lana Del Rey’s songbook, nostalgic, bittersweet, and benefiting from Del Rey’s affinity for all things heartbreaking. [8/10]

Morgan Y. Evans: Really, really into this one from Lana. I thought Honeymoon had moments but was a lot weaker album than the near perfect Ultraviolence album, a milestone pop record of the last ten years that was like a moody wine with all the right notes releasing in sequence. I still think that is the high water mark of Del Rey releases to date. Hearing new single "Love" just gave me "Lana goosebumps" again, though. As a lyricist, I especially dug the spare first verse with astute lyrics about the push-pull between hipster vintage culture nostalgia and trying to find your own, new place in history. "You're part of the past, but now you're the future, signals crossing can get confusing." The message that sometimes it is enough to be young and in love and find your way, make mistakes and suss out your collage of originality and the familiar is actually empowering and a wonderful message in this new era where we are supposed to rip one another to shreds and micro-analyze everything while we all stake claim to authenticity. But anyway, "Love" just felt like a mini-Lana homecoming party in my head and it is so effin' good! The underground has J. M. Barrie storybook character/goddess/somehow a real human Marissa Nadler, but "Love" is probably my favorite song from the current household name pop queen of "sadness feels" since Lana released the completely unfuckwithable "Cruel World". Shit, this might now be in my top five Lana songs ever nestled in with "Sad Girl", "Blue Jeans", "Fucked My Way...", "Cruel World", etc. though I am also admittedly super amped up on it right now and we will see how it ages. But yeah...Yes!! [10/10]

Paul Carr: Lana Del Rey swaps her sweeping, synthetic nostalgia for something a little more contemporary but her worldview still seems stuck in the past. The music itself shares the minimalism of her early work, and she has, thankfully, toned down the Hollywood Femme Fatale Schtick. However, this also means that the rougher edges have been polished with the absence of any danger or insecurity. All in all, it’s a very restrained song but lacks the sensuality she intended and feels a bit forced, lacking the artistic intelligence of a maverick like Kate Bush for example. Pleasant enough but something is missing. [6/10]

Andrew Paschal: "Love" retains all of the cinematic impulses typical to Lana Del Rey's music. In contrast to the smokey noirs of Ultraviolence and Honeymoon, however, her latest single veers closer to feel-good romantic comedy territory. The familiar elements are all there -- the blackened, reverb-laden click of the guitar and Del Rey's gorgeous, wispy vocals -- but the production is clearer and lighter, adhering closest to previous singles like "Ride". The sense of mystery that usually surrounds her work is mostly gone, and "Love" lacks the dense character of her best work. That said, it is also very pretty and melodically memorable. [6/10]

Mike Schiller: The flowers in her hair, the sepia-tinted color scheme, the nod to the Beach Boys as she almost off-handedly sings "Don't worry baby"... it's clear that Lana Del Rey was going for an interesting sort of nostalgia here, a nostalgia for a time she's only read about. On the way, she finds perhaps the most approachable set of melodies she's ever sung, over a backdrop that sounds like a '60s R&B tune as heard from the next room. Her voice sounds as it always has, lilting almost to a fault and immediately recognizable, but it's perfect for the song. There's melancholy here, sure, as there always is with Lana Del Rey, but there's also a sort of admiration for a generation that continues to exist, to persevere in the face of overstimulation and under satisfaction. There's a lot to sink your teeth into here; if this is the direction for her next album, we have a lot to look forward to. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: Lana Del Rey excels at taking us to dark places spiked with classic pop. "Love" is no exception. While the execution is seemingly negative and foreboding, she taps a deep vein of Phil Spector-esque girl group nostalgia. The song has a timeless feel and an almost operatic Roy Orbison vibe that makes it seem like a cover you once heard years ago, but it has a unique spirit that can only be Lana. [8/10]

Steve Horowitz: This is pleasant enough mood music to listen to while hanging out. Lana Del Rey conveys an understanding that most of the time we are just waiting around for something to do, and it’s enough to be young and in love. One doesn’t need to be aggressive about it or moon over the feelings. One can just let the feeling wash over you while you are on your way to work or the coffee shop. The low-key ambiance works in the song’s favor. Del Rey doesn’t reach for notes or hold her breath. She just sings slowly and with feeling as the instrumental beat matches the sound of her heart. [8/10]

Brian Duricy: She's back. Though we heard from Lana last year on her word-for-word-this-is-what-you'd-expect-a-Lana-Del-Rey-feature-on-a-Weeknd-album-to-sound-like appearance on Starboy's "Stargirl Interlude", she hadn't left an individual mark since 2015's lush, like walking through molasses that feels like flowers, Honeymoon. All that changed with "Love", a song which can't help but be compared to the first song that rocketed her to mainstream consciousness, "Video Games", what with their similarly so simple you can't imagine why you hadn't thought of it first hooks ("It's you, it's you, it's all for you / Everything I do", for those needing a refresher on the latter, and "To be young and in love" going the former) and expensive, expansive instrumentals. The major instruments played on "Love" have to be, at their quickest, half notes, allowing Del Rey's voice to guide the track, sounding like, to borrow a phrase from another of this year's early contenders for Song of the Year, Richie Quake's "Try", burnt sienna -- rich, smoky, but light enough to ease the senses. Born to Die proved that she could make perfect pop songs, while Ultraviolence and Honeymoon staked her claim as a musical world-builder, and on "Love", it sounds like her fourth album will marry the two. You'd be forgiven for not wanting to wait to hear it. [10/10]

SCORE: 8.00


Love Songs: The Hidden History (Excerpt)

What do evolutionary biology and its founding father, Charles Darwin, have to do with love songs? As it turns out, quite a lot. Enjoy this excerpt of Ted Gioia's Love Songs: The Hidden History, courtesy of Oxford University Press.

Ted Gioia
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