‘The Paradise Edition’ opens with the sultry and seductive ‘Ride’. Nostalgic lyrics and haunting vocals, teamed up with a rich melancholic piano melody. Listening to this song, I’m transported to a wide stretch of the American desert, where I’m free to bask in my own self-indulgent misery, if only for a moment. This is of course, until that heart-wrenching chorus kicks in, and I’m imaging myself there, on that rope, swinging in midair, just as we see in the video for the song. This song appeals to me in ways I cannot possibly explain, and because of that… I just ride. What I find most interesting about this song is Lana’s ability to highlight what it means to feel rejected, to be someone who is just drifting through life, maybe even feeling a little crazy at times.. and then to just let it go, accept it even. That is what the chorus delivers – an overwhelming sense of freedom and comfort.
After the emotional highs and lows of ‘Ride’, I find myself drifting away into a somewhat angelic, dreamy state, as I catch myself humming along to Lana’s smoky vocals on ‘American’, the second song from ‘The Paradise Edition’. It has all the key elements of a classic, sophisticated ballad, but with that key atmospheric twist that Lana brings to her music. As I listen to this song, I’m reminded of how I felt when I first heard ‘The Lucky Ones’ from the ‘Born to Die’ record. There is a certain similarity between them, in that, they both step away from the darker side of Lana. While I honestly prefer Lana’s darker, more mysterious and melancholic tracks, I have to admit that this song definitely finds its way into my top five.
Keep in mind though, that… if you thought that the tracks from ‘Born to Die’ highlighted the dark side of Lana, ‘Gods and Monsters’ will offer you her darkest side yet. With references to God and religion, conflicts between evil and good, messages of drug/alcohol addiction. Lana ties all elements together: “Fame, liquor, love, give it to me slowly”. Despite all these rough elements, Lana still holds onto the hope that “in the lands of Gods and Monsters”…. she was an angel and that no one is going to take away her soul. It’s dark, and it’s deep, and it might make you want to shy away at times, but there is something there that draws you back in.
Although, if you’re looking to take an escape from that darker side, you just might yet. Lana finds an opportunity to get a bit playful with the new record. This can be heard in ‘Cola’ and ‘The Body Electric’, both of which explore themes of popular American culture/cultural icons, as she claims “Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn’s my mother.”
‘Bel Air’ and ‘Yayo’, seem to have been branded by many as no more than fillers, used simply to fill the space at the end of the record. Honestly, I can only imagine that these comments come from those that haven’t listened to the record in its entirety. Both songs offer haunting vocals, with chilling lyrics. I welcome the piano introduction in ‘Bel Air’ – something I think we could use more of in Lana’s music.
I have to say though, that I find ‘Yayo’ quiet difficult to listen to. It’s a very personal song, that offers up a lot about Lana’s past. Her sincerity is striking, so much so that at times it can feel as if you’re an intruder listening in on the song… as if she were singing it to someone else: “Let me put on a show for you, daddy”.
As a huge Lana Del Rey fan, myself, I truly hope that the release of ‘The Paradise Edition’ will mark a new beginning for Lana, a chance to establish herself into an industry that never fully accepted her. Accusations regarding authenticity led to a difficult start for the singer, and a perhaps misunderstood debut album.
‘The Paradise Edition’ offers so much more than I even expected of Lana. It is a collection of the same hypnotic, orchestral, atmospheric and seductive Lana tracks that we have always loved and admired… Mixed with a completely new twist. A bolder, braver, more outspoken Lana. It’s personally what I love about her. She doesn’t shy away from difficult or controversial subjects… and while she might leave you haunted, she’ll comfort and console you in the process.
If you are new to Lana, or a lifelong fan, just wanting more, either way... this record is perfection.