Always one to extract everything she possibly can out of a metaphor, the songwriter extraordinaire Lana Del Rey’s ninth album can mostly be summed up by the one she touches on during its eighth track. Titled “Kintsugi,” it’s named after a Japanese term for repairing broken pottery in such a way that the breaks and cracks are preserved as part of the artwork’s storied history. On a project where Del Rey does a lot of musing about the legacy of her and her family – anticipating a day that she might be forgotten, like the titular tunnel with mosaic ceilings that lies dormant under Long Beach – it stands out as truly poignant.
Opening up about some family tragedies as well as, of course, her own heartbreak, Del Rey’s latest set of tracks find her embracing those cracks as part of the beauty of the whole with another helping of her trademark poetics. Another great symbolic moment opens the album: specifically selecting her backup singers because they once performed with Whitney Houston herself, the first thing we hear is them making a mistake and then recovering swiftly.
It’s quite a testament to both Del Rey’s songwriting ability and her mesmerizing vocals that she’s now been releasing albums that often don’t have much outside of piano and string ballads for over a decade, and scores of entranced fans still wait for the next one. There’s nobody who does wistful and melodramatic quite like her, and you can add the title track of this project to her all-timer catalogue in that regard. There are still some surprises scattered throughout – Jack Antonoff takes a break from the orchestral swells to drop a couple futuristic trap beats and rapper Tommy Genesis makes an appearance near the end – but for the most part, once again, it’s the longing sighs and ballads that continue to show off her strengths. As she says herself on “Kintsugi” – if it cracks, that’s how the light gets in.