Lana Del Rey

badger_king's picture
What's it called?: 
Born to Die
What does it sound like?: 
The epithet goes “don’t believe the hype”. Having heard the debut album from Lana Del Rey this evening, I have to say firmly, in this case DO believe the hype. For a major album on a major label to be peddled as a pop album on the back of a viral campaign and successful single is no big thing. It happens all the time. Seemingly more and more in the current record industry. However, it doesn’t usually happen with albums that are so out there and in places, sinister and beguiling all at once. Girls Aloud this is not. What is “Born To Die” then if not pop? In some ways it IS a pop album, albeit one much more aloof than what people have become used to. There are memorable tunes, simple songs about love, etc etc. For me, the lyrical content is not what enthralled me. What is instantly captivating about “Born To Die” is the beats. Yes, that’s right, BEATS. More similar to ’90s trip hop merchants such as Sneaker Pimps and Morcheeba, Lana Del Rey’s album is full of beats and strings, sweeping in grandiose arcs through a sepia tinged evening, summoning more of a lethargic groove than any of Del Rey’s current solo female contemporaries. Through the subtle power of “Video Games” or the All Saints / Massive Attack influenced half-spoken “National Anthem”, this is an album that I believe will bear repeated plays. I’m reviewing it on one listen and I’m mesmerised. I can’t remember the last album to really draw me in like that. It’s certainly been a while. Other highlights “Diet Mountain Dew” and “This Is What Makes Us Girls” follow the sparse beats and strings pattern but to stirring effect. Sometimes its nice to find something that genuinely appeals throughout. Ignoring the imagined controversy surrounding Del Rey’s image or background, it is refreshing for an album so widely publicised and marketed to actually justify its support. I for one hope her career continues as long as it can. For fans of beats, trip hop and late night grooves THIS is for you. Great stuff.
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Great review but I wonder, what did you think of it after more listens? I ask because I liked it very much to begin with, but after a while found it to be like being fed tiny silver spoonfuls of honey, one after the other, until it began to sound so terribly mannered and artificial that I could hardly bear to look at the picture on the cover, let alone play it. As a result it's spent the last couple of months attracting the wrong side of sweetie wrappers in the map pocket.

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