JOSH THE WORD

Josh the Word is a rapper living in Brooklyn.

When does Lana Del Rey’s album drop? We still don’t know, but here is the cover art

Written to match tone and style for Mic.com

Lana Del Rey’s upcoming Lust for Life album still doesn't have a release date, but this week the Grammy-nominated singer unveiled the album art via Instagram. The cover art follows a black-and-white trailer for the album she tweeted out last month and the first single, “Love,” which set the blogosphere ablaze back in February. Where those two pieces followed the dark, Americana-inspired style fans have come to expect from Del Rey, the cover photo is a plot twist in the Lust for Life storyline.

On the cover of the new album, Lana Del Rey poses in front of an old pickup truck with flowers in her hair, a clear throwback to Woodstock-era “flower child” imagery. For the first time in her career, the singer appears in a cover photo smiling brightly at the camera, and the portrait feels warm and nostalgic for a simpler time in America.

But if we’ve learned one thing about Del Ray, it’s that her throwbacks rarely arrive without a haunting twist. After watching the album trailer and the dark video for “Love,” it’s hard not to wonder if the singer’s cover photo smile is meant to look more like an eerie mask than a bundle of joy, hinting at the turmoil we might find in the songs underneath. After all, the "peace and love" of the hippie 1960s often spoke directly to chaotic struggles over the Vietnam War, civil rights, and a rapidly changing America. It’s hard to ignore how Del Rey’s picture of that past moment might speak to the present moment in this country as well.

Lana Del Rey is usually mysterious in rolling out new material, and the lead up to her new album certainly fits the bill. As we wait for her to announce a release date, it seems clear that only the music on Lust for Life will fully reveal what kind of American picture she wants to paint us in 2017.