“Blue Banisters”: An Intimate Look into Lana Del Rey’s Mind

Farooz Khan-Trunnell, Contributing Writer

Rating: 4/5 Falcons

Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey has proven to be one of most interesting musicians of the 2010s, with her anachronistic lyricism and 1950s and 1960s inspired aesthetics. Recently, her music has been going in a more stripped back, acoustic direction, starting with the critically acclaimed Norman F–––ing Rockwell! album in 2019, which seemed straight out of the idyllic mid-20th century suburban atmosphere Lana often paints. In March of this year, she released the slightly less cohesive, but still quite elegant, Chemtrails Over the Country Club to more positive reception. Less than a year later, Lana has returned with her eighth studio album, Blue Banisters, a continuation of her last two projects’ sound. The question is, was it worth it to release another full album so soon?

The short answer is yes. Banisters is all the somber extravagance of Chemtrails, while bringing an even more developed, tumultuous sound. The LP is 15 songs (about an hour long), starting with “Textbook,” a catchy and cathartic opening track, which provides a gentle push into the enchanting world of the album. “Textbook” is one of four singles released during the rollout of this record. The rest of which, “Blue Banisters,” “Arcadia,” and “Wildflower Wildfire” (tracks 2, 3 and 11), are just as understated and beautiful. The title track sets up a lyrical motif of the color blue throughout the tracklist, a representation of sadness. While this is certainly isn’t the most creative metaphor, it’s the clever and consistent ways Lana utilizes the theme throughout Banisters that make it notable.

Banisters is all the somber extravagance of Chemtrails, while bringing an even more developed, tumultuous sound.

The single interlude, “Interlude – The Trio,” is the first major sign of the album’s wilder side: fully instrumental with a bombastic orchestral sample plus a skull-pounding trap beat (the reason for which is unclear, though it certainly adds momentum). Following “The Trio,” “Black Bathing Suit” tackles Lana’s quarantine and perceived outcast status in a way that feels fittingly unpolished and rebellious. The more poised “If You Lie Down With Me” is more of a straightforward, traditional love song, and the best cut on Banisters, with its earworm chorus and jazz-inspired outro.

The album continues with a structure of slow, refined tracks with the occasional break for something more eclectic. “Violent for Roses,” a beautiful piano ballad about embracing individuality after a confining relationship precedes “Dealer,” where an angry, almost screaming Del Rey and Miles Kane trade depressive lyrics over a noisy—though mildly repetitive—drum beat. These more chaotic detours are a double-edged sword. They add more color to the Banisters tracklist, but their unpredictable nature prevents it from being as cohesive as previous Lana albums. Eventually, the last leg takes a much softer and slower turn, which some may consider a little boring, but it is also a strong way to end the album’s chaotic arc.

Looking at the album as a whole, Blue Banisters certainly isn’t Lana’s most focused LP, although depending on interpretation, the music is an accurate reflection of an internally conflicted artist. Beyond that, the album’s introspective lyricism and elegant production is more than a Lana Del Rey fan could ask for from her second release in a year. It’s no Norman F–––ing Rockwell!, but it is a beautiful expression of the themes Lana is famous for.

This piece also appears in our November 2021 print edition.