Lana Del Rey’s album “Born To Die” has been masterfully promoted and it’s worldwide release this week has drawn some rave reviews and at the same time harsh criticism. To understand the draw of Lana Del Rey (real name Elizabeth “Lizzie” Grant) one only has to compare the lusty chanteuse to current mainstream music makers. Lana would never be seen with spray tan running down her leg, or breast implants bonking her in the chin. She’s the kind of girl that rides on the back of motorcycles and mixes cool drinks in the hot sun. She’s approachable, she harkens back to a time of subtle sexiness where tight sweaters were daring, when flirting was really flirting and not just a prelude to a four minute soft-core porn video.
The album dropped this week and although not available on vinyl (for shame) the digital version is well-mastered. The deluxe version contains three additional tracks, available in the usual digital formats.
“Video Games” is a soft, sweet and haunting song. Lana’s voice is well cared for, the progressions solid, lyrics straight out of the diary of a high-school love-struck girl longing for summer to go on forever. Her raspy voice winding in and out this was an excellent choice for a single, and the video is done perfectly.
Conversely, “Off To the Races” feels like a confused little girl playing dress up in momma’s clothes. Shedding and donning different personalities and styles within the song it’s difficult to latch onto and enjoy the ride, unfortunate. This is not the only occurrence on the album, although the most visible.
Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die (recorded live at the BBC)
There are some very well crafted numbers on the album, “Dark Paradise” is slightly dark, the music and Lana’s voice swell perfectly together at key points. Ripe for a mash-up this song will be hitting dance-floors in the coming months. “Summertime Sadness” is the thing that melancholy is made of; the rhythm perfectly carries the feeling of loss and sadness while Lana croons into the microphone.
“Million Dollar Man” could have been one of the best songs the year, the lyrics and songwriting are dark and bitter, old glamour and passion pour over the edges and hit the table. The downfall to this song is Lana over “acting” and pulling the listener away from the song with her vocal gymnastics. This one has immense potential, and live could be a showstopper.
Mere hours after it’s release several music sites shredded “Born To Die” with ruthless zeal. Some seemed angry that Lana pulled her debut album off the shelves and started “fresh” as Del Rey. Others felt the album didn’t coalesce well, or was too immature for the daughter of a music executive.
Despite all of the back-story that has closely followed the album it’s really not bad; weak in places and strong in others. One gets the impression that a young artist was given freedom and creative license, and as young people often do, experimented with sounds, and styles, and textures. Instead of a perfect pop-star delivered in shiny packaging we received an imperfect album with a few missteps. But the highs on this album, the parts that were delivered really well, those are the signs of a great artist, who is just starting to find her way.
by Meredith Underhill
Photo Credit: Nicole Nodland