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The most exciting new artist for some time
on 30 January 2012
Firstly, I want to address the inadequate online loudmouths who seem determined to drive this young woman to a breakdown with the amount of bile they've been spewing in recent months: I don't care about the hype surrounding Lana Del Rey, it doesn't interest me. I don't care that she's changed her name (hardly a new phenomenon in the entertainment industry) or how wealthy her father is. I don't care that she's a nervous live performer - it's hardly surprising given the barrage of attacks she has already faced. Oh, and I certainly don't care whether or not her lips are enhanced by collagen. It's somewhat disturbing that only female singers ever face this kind of harsh scrutiny, but otherwise it's irrelevant.
All that matters to me is the music - and the music is sublime.
A big part of the appeal is that incredible, shiver-inducing voice; one moment it's a world-weary drawl encompassing all the despair of broken dreams and unfulfilled hopes... the next it's girly and playful with an uncomfortable undercurrent of knowing sexuality (hence the 'Lolita' comparisons). It's perfectly matched by the 'Lynchian' quality of the music, a combination of dreamy, seductive Hollywood strings and grimy trailer-park beats. It's Nancy Sinatra lost in the world of Twin Peaks.
Bizarrely a few critics have suggested a certain misogyny is present in her lyrics; they seem determined to remain oblivious to the persona Del Rey clearly adopts in virtually all the songs here - a (sadly not uncommon) teenage girl lacking in self-worth, dreaming only of wealth and celebrity and so desperate to find and hold a man that she willingly accepts indifference or even outright cruelty, telling herself she's in love. It's precisely this which makes songs like Video Games so heartbreakingly tragic. Del Rey is merely portraying (based on personal experience, apparently) the misogyny so many young women still fall victim to, partly because they aren't strong or confident enough to demand the better life they deserve.
To sum up: if you liked the singles Video Games and Born To Die, there's plenty more of the same here. The only real problem Lana Del Rey faces is, how do you follow an album as accomplished as this? I for one can't wait to see what she does next.