Let’s get all the words critics use to describe Lana Del Rey out of the way up front: cinematic, moody, surreal, ethereal, filmic, cascading, swelling, swooning sweeping, captivating, crooning, dreamy, melancholy, et al. We are now four years and four albums out from her debut Born to Die -- at this point, we all know what Lana Del Rey fucking sounds like.

Her latest, Honeymoon, came out Sept. 18, and it is the most Lana-y sounding Lana album yet, the perfect Soundtrack For Introspectively Staring Out Windows. She’d be a parody of herself if she weren’t so damn good at making music (and at such a breakneck pace, to boot).

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Where Born to Die and Paradise are unselfconscious, and Ultraviolence is biting, Honeymoon has a meandering softness to it. 13 of the 14 tracks average around the 5-minute mark, a difficult length for singer-songwriters to pull off. But with Lana, it works. The extra time gives her the freedom to experiment with her voice as an instrument, lyric-less oohs and mmms that give songs weight and beauty much like the artists she most admires and emulates. She’s figured out how to integrate hip-hop subtlety into her music, to great effect on tracks like “High by the Beach” with its perfect staccato chorus. The result is a truly lovely body of work in line with Del Rey’s sensibilities and what we’ve come to expect from her.

It’s an excellent record from possibly the only mysterious contemporary popstar left on the island. Today, we clamor for realness from our favorite musicians, demanding they tell us details of their lives, demanding that media provide us with the gritty details of their everyday existence. Taylor Swift exists because of that desire, or maybe she spurred it on inside of us, the idea that we can “know” the uber famous. That through following her on Instagram or interacting with her on Tumblr, she is somehow our friend. And there’s a place in music for women who write confessional songs -- they shouldn’t be crucified for that.

But there’s something sneaky and richly dark that makes Del Rey so enjoyable, something we’ll never be able to quite put our finger on. She answers questions about the seeming lack of feminism in her work (whatever that means) with musings on space. She talks to reporters about how she doesn’t want anyone to listen to her music. She’s possibly the most in-control-of-her-own-image star of the past decade, the most defiant of explanation, no matter how many adjectives we try to tack on. She’s a person and a character, this woman with a made-up name who sings sad songs people love in equal parts to listen to and make fun of. And it’s all part of her singular vision -- she writes the music, she sings the music, she helps produce it, she gives interviews that fail to illuminate much at all.

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I was listening to a Beats 1’s interview with Del Rey for the release of one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Salvatore.” The song is this sweeping, cinematic, Italian-inspired piece with a chorus that actually rhymes “cacciatore” and “limousines” with “ciao amore” and “soft ice cream.” It is Del Rey at her dreamiest and most farcical, feeding us nonsensical lines over an addictive heartbreaking melody. But I got swept up in it, all the glamour of Lana and the character she has created so vividly it’s like reading a novel. I was jolted when her very normal-sounding speaking voice came on the air, so different from her singing voice or the one she uses during live shows. Who is this person? What is she like? What do her friends think of her?

But somehow I know that even if I could answer those questions, it wouldn’t matter. As she sings on “Freak,” Honeymoon’s best track, “Loving me is all you need to feel like I do.” The mystery is part of the fun.

Read more at Bust.com: 

4 Things That Bore Me More Than Feminism Bores Lana Del Rey

Frances Bean Cobain and Lana Del Rey Make Peace Via Twitter

Maleficent: Girls Meets Girl, Girls Save Themselves

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