The year 2021 will go down as a creatively fertile period for Lana Del Rey.
Her album Blue Banisters, which came out on Friday, is her second this year and follows the success of Chemtrails over the Country Club, which came out in March.
The new work isn't so much of a surprise, as the singer announced it only a day after releasing its predecessor, with a teaser image on social media.
Despite the long lead-up period, Blue Banisters received an enthusiastic response from fans, with both Del Rey's first name and album title trending on Twitter.
Critics are also responding well, with consensus building that it’s better than the lacklustre Chemtrails over the Country Club.
The Guardian praised the directness of Del Rey's "relatable" lyrics and described the album as "an important addition to Lana Lore".
Variety labelled the album a companion piece to Chemtrails over the Country Club and said the new songs pack an urgency with Del Rey fighting to "reclaim her own narrative".
Entertainment website AV Club, which was critical of Del Rey's first 2021 effort, called Blue Banisters a return to form and break-up album informed by the pandemic: “It is a reminder that when the singer-songwriter is in charge of her vision and fully taps into her emotions, she’s still capable of crafting breathtaking beauty,” it wrote.
And as for Del Rey, the six-time Grammy Award nominee has yet to comment on the album since its release.
This is partly owing to her social media hiatus, after some controversial posts.
In May, she faced criticism after responding to fellow female pop stars' comments, in a lengthy post defending accusations that her lovelorn balladry is "glamourising abuse".
In a now-deleted Instagram post, Del Rey said artists such as Ariana Grande, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj "have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, cheating, etc".
She said: "Can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money – or whatever I want – without being crucified or saying that I'm glamourising abuse?”
Del Rey went on to walk back those comments, claiming respect to the artists she name-checked, before deactivating her Instagram account in September.
In one of her last posts, she said those setbacks inspired some of the personal lyricism of Blue Banisters.
"As much as the ongoing criticism has been trying, it at least has pushed me to explore my own family tree, to dig deep, and to continue to exhibit the fact that God only cares about how I move through the world,” she wrote.
Blue Banisters is available for streaming on major music platforms including Spotify and Apple Music.