Album Audit is a weekly Interns feature, recapping and reviewing the album releases of the week with a cheeky score out of five.
Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
Album Of The Week
Five years ago when Lana Del Rey released her debut album Born To Die, it would’ve been very hard to imagine that we’d be talking about her fourth album, a number one record, in 2017. Her initial career was built on a cycle of negative press and mystery that somehow kept people interested. Since Born To Die, Del Rey has surprisingly built a career on substance rather than style. Every album has been better, more interesting than the last and Lust For Life continues that trend. It’s her best album yet.
The vintage Hollywood starlet aesthetic is still there but for the first time it feels like she’s no longer playing a character. From the melodramatic optimism of Love to the soulful liberation of Get Free, Lust For Life prays for the past and fears for the future with a glimmer of hope that was missing on her past records. “There’s a change gonna come,” she sings on haunting, career-highlight Change, introducing a far more mature and thoughtful songwriter than she was when she stupidly said, “I wish I was dead already.”
She regrets that statement now and the smile she wears on the cover of this record suggests that she’s no longer willing to give up. Aptly, Lust For Life is at its best when it’s hopeful. 13 Beaches‘ sweeping strings uplift, In My Feelings has her asking, “Who’s doper than this bitch?” with a wicked confidence and Groupie Love sees her reignite her love story with A$AP Rocky. The world crumbles around her but Lana always finds solace in love and that’s what shines through amidst the political and social statements smattered throughout.
The love songs on here are the best she’s ever made. Cherry is a masterful cut for those who love hard and has Lana singing, “I said real love is like feelin’ no fear.” It’s these personal moment that allow her the grander, more ridiculous musings like God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It which has her replacing nationalism for fear complete with gun shots. A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd, Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon all join in at various points on the record but this is Lana’s show. Over all 16 songs she’s at peak Lana – dramatic, mysterious, magical and hopeful. You could once criticise her grandeur for being insincere but here when she asks, “Is it the end of America?” you believe her. The mournful singer who felt like an actress in the Obama era is suddenly exactly what we need during a Trump presidency. 4.5
A$AP Twelvyy – 12
A$AP Twelvyy‘s debut album 12 was 10 years in the making. The Bronx rapper has watched fellow A$AP Mob members Rocky and Ferg rise to be two of the most prominent MCs in hop-hop right now and now he’s finally got it together to release a record that’s sure to set him on the same trajectory that made the aforementioned.
While Rocky went for psychedelia on his last LP and Ferg went for everything from trap to EDM, 12 sees Twelvyy deliver a straight-up New York City rap record. With this project Twelvyy told Complex he wanted to it to be about, “sounding where I’m from or helping our sound grow.” The opener Castle Hell sets us right where he grew up, tapping fellow NYC rapper RZA to deliver the outro. From there, it’s all about the rise. L.Y.B.B. (RESOLUTION) celebrates success over a sparse, cold beat and Hop Out celebrates wealth with Ferg over a far more accessible beat. Rocky also drops in for the woozy Diamonds which samples Phantogram.
There are some big moments on here but Twelvyy is at his best when he’s autobiographical, rapping about NYC. Periodic Table is a grand, expensive-sounding track that sees him deliver some of his tightest bars. Closer Brothers, a moving tribute to A$AP Yams, shows that he has an emotional depth and intelligence that really cuts through. “All I do is grieve now,” is the album’s most powerful line and part of the reason it was delayed so long. More of that unfiltered honesty and 12 could’ve been perfect. 3.5
Reo Cragun – Growing Pains
US R&B is in a really good place right now. The Weeknd went from bedroom cult hero to superstar, Khalid is on an unprecedented rise to the top and Bryson Tiller is selling out venues here in Australia. LA-based artist Reo Cragun is another youngster poised to make it big with a sound that takes pieces from all the modern R&B heroes, bouncing between trap and soul on his debut mixtape Growing Pains.
Like many mixtapes in 2017, Growing Pains reads more like an album. It’s a beautifully clean set of 11 songs with at least a couple of standouts that could see him on a sharp road to success. Opener On My Way brings a PARTYNEXTDOOR flow and soars with a beautifully textured voice while Balance brings the club vibes showing he can occupy mainstream and urban spaces.
While there aren’t any misfires on here, the most impressive moments are the emotional ones. On The Feels, he channels late night contemplations with a fragile falsetto and on closer Say It Ain’t So he gets autobiographical with powerful, poignant verses. Growing Pains is immediately impressive but if he’s calling this a mixtape you can only dream of how good the album will be. 4