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.
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!
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.
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.
on 30 January 2012
Listening to this album is a bit like watching Donnie Darko. At first, because it's so different, you don't get it. You enjoy it, but you don't get it. So you watch again to see if you missed something, and you find you enjoy it more! The more you watch, the more you enjoy and that is the same with this album. The sound of Del Rey's music is like 1940's jazz with hip hop beats over the top. It shouldn't work, but it really does. Each song has it's own qualities, the majority have very catchy choruses. Her voice has a dreamlike quality but she also has a lot of vocal range as show in 'Off To The Races'. My personal highlights include 'Million Dollar Man', 'Radio', 'Dark Paradise', and 'Off To The Races'. The only track that diesn't grab me as soon as the music starts is 'Carmen', but I'm sure I'll grow to love that too. So, if you liked 'Video Games' and 'Born To Die', get this album. You will not regret it.
on 15 February 2012
Were startling beauty and image alone enough to make me buy an album, in Lana Del Rey's case I just might have been persuaded. But it was the voice of Video Games that persuaded me to part with my cash.
However, I was unprepared for the sense of growing disappointment brought on by every listen to this album. Sure, there are catchy melodies and that incredible voice - which is almost sublime in places. And there is a knock out track in Video Games. But the clueless production really grates. Many of the songs suffer the indignity of being completely undermined by absurd samples chanting nonsense in rhythmic stabs throughout. Think chart friendly hip hop crossover hits of the 1990's and you will be close. In places this record is in danger of being crushed by cliche. Such mediocre production comes as a surprise, all things considered. So if you are going to buy this album, buy it for the pleasure of the voice alone. And hope that if Lana Del Rey makes another record, it will be produced by someone with an imagination to match her vocal talent.
on 19 March 2012
What a great album. Really something different to everything else around at the minute. Every song is good and Lana del Ray's haunting vocals are top class on all of them. Hard to put into a certain category of music, so I guess it just belongs in one all of it's own.
I would strongly recommend buying this.
on 19 February 2012
There seems little point in reviewing an album that has already been reviewed by so many people, but a few thoughts are perhaps worth writing down, given the whirl of misinformation and hype and hating that has gone on. With just a couple of songs Lana Del Rey has completely rejuvenated and revalidated the whole of popular music. That may seem an overstatement, but I'm speaking as someone who wouldn't listen to the Top 40 if you offered me a large sum of money. I only had to listen to a snatch of one of Lana's songs, and I knew she was something special, something exciting from a musical realm that has been entirely stale for the past decade. Firstly the image: yes, she is striking to look at, but it is anything but an easy look, it's a confrontational look and a mysterious look; she doesn't smile, she looks like she could maybe kill you, given provocation. Everything she does flirts with the conventions of pop music, but all at one remove. In her songs, she plays a certain character, arguably several different ones. You sense that she doesn't feel any limitation on what she will do. She will quote Nabokov's Lolita, because she feels like it. She will write a song entitled 'Born To Die', she will call her album it, as no other calculating pop star would do. She sings about doomed love and death, as no other pop star would do. She mixes pungent reality with seductive fantasy. All her songs are shot through with a sad, wasted glamour that it's impossible to shake from your mind, once you've heard it. She is to pop music now what Springsteen was to pop music in the seventies and eighties. She is arguably one of the best lyricists at work today, in any genre. She presents to us 'a freshman generation of degenerate beauty queens'. The portraits she paints are old-fashioned portraits of young women and young women grown old, who have never heard of the word feminism, and blindly pledge their hearts to useless and violent and masculine men. Listen to the sadness in her portraits, rather than having some knee-jerk reaction to the un-PC characters. This is no advert for female empowerment, but it portrays these doomed and sincere women with great fidelity and affection. Del Rey doesn't sneer; she empathises with her characters, she becomes her characters. There is as much depth in her portraits of superficiality as you would find in a Matt Berninger lyric. Dark Paradise is one of the most subtly powerful and devastating portraits of living after the death of a lover that you will find. Carmen is a heartbreaking portrayal of a woman who everyone envies the false image of, while the woman herself is living in hell. Million Dollar Man is a perfect indictment of a certain kind of flashy man who women will fall for, only to be mistreated. Del Rey's women are victims, yes, but it's the sincere tragedy of their situations which makes for such memorable music. The tunes, of course, are entirely sublime. The sort of tunes you thought had died out with pop's heyday. You remember Madonna circa 'Like a Prayer'? Born To Die itself is one of the most majestic pop songs ever written. She is in the same league as Prince when he wrote 'Nothing Compares 2 U' and 'When Doves Cry'. Her voice is not a perfect instrument; there's a hitch in her voice which is occasionally disruptive, but she manoeuvres around it pretty well, and her ability to move from deep sophisticate to adolescent wanna-be is frequently striking. Buy the fifteen track version. Lucky Ones is classic.
on 30 January 2012
All i can say that this is a very gloomy album but brilliant in every ways. I love her lethal voice and it suits with the name Lana Del Rey. Her voice is so dangerously delicious you don't know whether she's out to kill you or caress you. Don't care regarding where she comes from and all those trash-talking. This is a very good album for people who loves some retro-futuristic vibes and then some. Makes this year so-called doomsday prophecy seems promisingly bright and cheerful.
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.