Call Honeymoon the third installment in a trilogy if you will but there's no indication Lana Del Rey will put her doomed diva persona to rest after this album. Over the course of three albums, Lana Del Rey hasn't so much expanded her delicately sculpted persona as she has refined it, removing anything extraneous to her exquisite ennui. Honeymoon doesn't drift or float, it marks time, sometimes swelling with a suggestion of impending melodrama but often deflating to just an innervated pulse. Apart from the syncopated chorus on "High on the Beach," any lingering element of the hip-hop affectations of Born to Die have been banished and so have the shade and light Dan Auerbach brought to Ultraviolence, a record that feels cinematic in comparison to Honeymoon.
Azadeh Moaveni, longtime Middle East correspondent for Time magazine, returns to Iran to cover the rise of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Living and working in Tehran, she finds a nation that openly yearns for freedom and contact with the West but whose economic grievances and nationalist spirit find an outlet in Ahmadinejad's strident pronouncements. And then the unexpected happens: Azadeh falls in love with a young Iranian man and decides to get married and start a family in Tehran. Suddenly, she finds herself navigating an altogether different side of Iranian life. As women are arrested for "immodest dress" and the authorities unleash a campaign of intimidation against journalists, Azadeh is forced to make the hard decision that her family's future lies outside Iran. Powerful and poignant, Honeymoon in Tehran is the harrowing story of a young woman's tenuous life in a country she thought she could change.