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4.4 out of 5 stars529
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 30 January 2012
This is an amazing album. 48 hours ago I had never heard of Lana Del Rey...But when I saw the magnificient cover of "Born to die", I had to give it a try.
I was hoping against hope that she wasn't gonna be another Katy Perry or Lady Gaga, and she's not!
Definitly darker, deeper, Lana Del Rey leans more towards artists such as Kate Bush, Tori Amos or the under-rated Maria McKee (later period) with a hint of Amy Winehouse. A brilliant touch of modernity in the arrangements without ever falling into the cheap "dance" or "r'n'b" format, but rather staying in some sort of ambient style.
Overall, the album is very slow and dark (americana comes to mind), the stings arrangements are superb, it is a very atmospheric album, and Lana Del Rey displays a large range in her vocals, from deep "murder ballad"-like singing to bimbo-like whisperings (although not too much thank you!). Only four stars though, because some songs feel more like fillers than anything else and repeat the same scenario.

This is an artist I didn't expect at all, and I'm quite pleased to have heard and bought this cd!
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I'd never really paid much attention to Lana Del Rey before the album release, having only heard a remix of Video Games that didn't do the original justice. I looked at what the internet was saying and the reviews seemed oddly mixed between those who said every track was great and those who seemed to have some sort of a grudge against her that no-one could properly define. I made my own mind up, and very quickly joined the ranks of those who love every track.

Born To Die is a strong opener and, in similar tones to Video Games, meshes haunting melody and lyrics with a gritty, torch song quality, oddly verging between dirge and pop. Off To The Races continues the haunting theme with an offbeat love song that may at first seem like a celebration of being shallow but very quickly reveals maturity and depth, and once listened to is difficult to forget. Blue Jeans is a beautiful pop song slowed down to a pace where it almost feels like a ballad. Video Games is simply the most beautiful song of the last year. Diet Mountain Dew is a breezy almost nonchalant pop song.

National Anthem is a playful song that on the surface has some lines that might make you think it's a clumsy way of celebrating the money and fame worship you hear in some other singers' songs, but the OTT way it's done and some of the lyrics, once closely listened to, clearly show it's a send up. Dark Paradise, a beautiful ballad about loss, is like an Evanescence song without the operatics. Radio is one of those guilty pleasure songs - a laid back pop song with a chorus that, if played on radio, would require much editing, and yet still manages to remain sounding innocent and beautiful. Carmen is a warning tale of the sad effects of Hollywood. Million Dollar Man is an old time dirge ballad with an undercurrent of sadness, and is extremely classy. Now comes one of my favourite new pop songs - Summertime Sadness. At this point you may think there is a theme of depression sinking into the songs, but this song is hard to describe because it somehow manages to be downbeat and uplifting at the same time. Ending the main album is This Is What Makes Us Girls, which is another one of those songs that could appear to be glamorising shallowness, yet at the same time has very knowing lyrics and manages to hook you into the story it's telling.

The three extra tracks don't stray too far from the winning formula of the main album. Without You is a heartfelt ballad that it is hard to believe was left off the main album. Lolita is a playful song that perhaps is a bit too much Avril Lavigne in her unconvincing bratty stage to fit too well with the other songs, yet isn't what you'd call bad. Lucky Ones is definitely the song that should end the album, a gentle ballad that slips comfortably into the silence at the end of the CD.
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on 16 March 2012
A brilliant, haunting, dark, but warm voice. Lots of reverb applied, which works well, and is only slightly sickly by the end. If you happen to have a collection of female vocals with deeper than average voices you might not be blown away by this album, but it's a new sound to me and I love it. She possesses a blend of soulful, sexy, ultra cool and occasionally playful tones. The music itself is not too busy and has quite a heavy bass and percussion which gives it an edge and more momentum than many 'proper' female solo singers. Much of the album has a kind of cynical, depressive, reflective feel which certainly suits her vocals. I agree with another reviewer who says the 'samples' give it a nineties hip-hop feel sometimes, but to me this works really well. The BBC review correctly states the album fades a little later on...but every album I own does that.

Has a hint of Coco Rosie about it at times.

Could well be the best album I buy this year.
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on 30 January 2012
I bought this album as soon as I could on the day of release. A lot of albums are over-hyped to an nth degree, and invariably they fail to live up to expectation. I was so worried this would too. After the furore in the press about Lana's background (and frankly, I couldn't care less about that), and the exposure her music has already had - notably the simply wonderful 'Video Games' - I have to admit that I was hoping this wouldn't be a few good tracks and a heap of fillers.

11:23 am, and this is the third time I've played this today. It is seriously that good. As a man brought up on the likes of The Tindersticks and Nick Cave (with and without his Bad Seeds), there has been a lack of a good, romantic melancholy female voice. The Handsome Family have got close from time to time, but there was no heroine for us. Amongst the beauty of her voice there's a definite sorrow. The fateful resignation of Video Games, the complicity of Off To The Races, the deep, deep pain of Carmen, the anguish of Summertime Sadness... If you've ever heard Mother Fist And Her Five Daughters by Marc Almond, you get an idea of what this album is like. Lana's voice is hauntingly beautiful, deep and brooding, with an inherent, breathless sexuality that just draws you in. From the opening strains of Born To Die, you're hooked. Dark, and yet stunning in every sense.

One last thing. This album is going to be shipped over the file-sharing networks en masse. Don't go there. BUY this album, don't steal it. Lana has been through a lot to get this album together and released, including being sued over the video she put together for Video Games. Never before has anyone deserved your money than this release. Do the right thing, put your hand into your bank account, and get this legally. Of course you should be doing that anyway, regardless of who the artist album. But buying this album will do two things. Firstly, it'll give her the financial ability to keep going, to keep making albums like this. And secondly, this album will be a hit, and give her the emotional incentive to release another one. Rant over. Click 'Add to Basket' above, and make her a bit of cash.
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on 22 November 2012
Having discovered Lana Del Rey several months before either her career or Video Games had achieved its surge in popularity to mainstream media, I remember witnessing her on Later With Jools Holland. My dad and I sat through her quiet, touching performance of 'Video Games' and we both agreed simultaneously that this was something special. Special in a sense that she broke away from the rest of the pretty faces in music endlessly recycling their poor-quality music. Further inspection of the tracks on this album only confirmed my hopes from that very first performance.
Strong, catchy, fiery and seductive tones resonate through the album, with a surprisingly consistent retainment of above-average lyrical content. Lana finds the delicate midpoint between catchy pop-style rhythm and darker, moodier blues and indie throughout the album, allowing it to reach a wider scope of listener. The stand-out tracks are the 3 solid ones available prior to release -'Born To Die', 'Video Games' and 'Blue Jeans', however every track is enjoyable after a mere few listenings. In particular, 'Diet Mountain Dew' and 'Summertime Sadness' are tracks worthy of mention. The album grows on you quickly and, if any, there are only two weak tracks that spring to mind - 'Million Dollar Man' and 'Dark Paradise'.
Breaking the tedium of almost all other American pop music, Lana Del Rey's 'Born to Die' is well worth a listen but to be embraced cautiously. I can't shake the feeling that this is a one-off success and a follow-up album would be considerably weaker. If live performances are anything to go by, Lana reflects the quality of this album, however we must all wait patiently to eagerly assess her next.
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on 28 August 2012
So what if she has a privileged background - why the hell is that a problem for some? Is greed better than envy? No!
Having seen Lana performing on TV, she may not be the most relaxed performer & she needs to smile just occasionally but gives (me) an insight into America's darker corners than many artists do but Lana does in a singular fashion that seems to perturb some. Unfortunately, life ain't quite without its pain & bruising so I admire artists who don't try to gloss over the less pleasant aspects.
Many will have heard the opening title track with its orchestral strings before Lana's voice rises through. Poignant fits the bill. Off To The Races (live) reminds me of a paragraph with few full stops where the music is upbeat as a song featuring cocaine addiction is likely to get! The next track, Blue Jeans opens with very simple guitar plucks that really drill straight into my head & is the song that does it for me he most on this album. The forth track is Video Games where the string section is accompanied by a harp to fine effect. I also like the slow-moving Million Dollar Man, Without You & the musical complexity of Lolita. The closing song, Lucky Ones, is about the hope bourn from escape.
As someone who likes classical, pop, dance, rock, electronica etc, I'm not a great lover of classical music fused into pop but it's done reasonably well here. If I was to try to come up with what this album is about, I suppose observing getting what we want from life comes with a lot of unwelcome baggage - especially when desire enters the equation describes it. No one is going to call Lana Del Ray's subject matter shallow, she's a good observer of the claustrophobia of small-town America. As far as freedom is concerned, we all have some way to go.
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on 27 February 2012
What a superb album!

It is difficult to describe this album musically but for me it is in the same vein as 'Massive Attack' and 'Portishead' with some elements of 'Madonna' (with the track 'This is what Makes Us Girls') from the mid 90s with a dreamy 'Twin Peaks' production theme running through the whole album, she reminds me vocally of 'Sophie Ellis Bexter' on some of the tracks like 'Dark Paradise' for instance.

This album is so refreshing and different from what is out there at present i just love the whole dreamy 'Twin Peaks' production.

Like With 99% of most albums you buy there are tracks you don't like for me this is 'Carmen' & 'Lolita' i just can't connect with these. There are some real growers which end up being your favourites like 'Radio' & 'Off to the races'

The best part of the album for me is the first half... tracks 1 -8 and worth paying £11.00 for this alone.

The Best tracks

'Born to die' & 'Video Games' - (The Singles)

'Blue Jeans'-(Future Single)
'National Anthem'-(Future Single)
'Radio'-(Future Single)
'Summertime Sadness'
'Lucky Ones'

Real Growers:

'Off To The Races'
Diet Mountain View'
'Dark Paradise'
'Million Dollar Man'

If you only buy one album this year make it this one! - you won't regret it!!
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My first exposure to Lana Del Rey was when I heard the song "Born To Die" and I was hypnotised by her deep, seductive voice. A while later I heard "Video Games" and the effect was the same, plus I felt the two songs were great - fresh but still sounding old, almost timeless in a way. Surely the album would be a disappointment after these two?

It's certainly a mixed bag in some ways. Alongside these two brilliant tracks you'll find Lana's voice shifting into higher, almost child-like registers, sometimes switching from low to high in a single line, and her tones are certainly distinctive yet versatile. The sound of the album is largely slow and chilled, almost trip-hop in a way with programmed beats in the background of most tracks. There are however plenty of styles, from the big moody numbers like "Video Games" to poppier tracks like "Radio" and "Summertime Sadness".

The "deluxe edition" incidentally isn't really deluxe. The packaging is a cardboard sleeve with presumably the same booklet as the jewel case edition, but there are three extra tracks. They're decent but not quite as good as the rest of the album.

Is she the product of a svengali, or studio trickery? Has she had her lips done? When the album sounds as good as this, who cares. I love it, and I can't wait to hear what she does next.
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on 18 February 2012
I was somewhat undecided about buying this album as I'd only really listened to Video Games but I don't regret it all - it's fantastic. Her voice is sultry and playful in turns and there is a good mix of tracks on the album, with a twist of quirkiness here and there.
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