Full disclosure: I used to hate Lana Del Rey. I thought her nothing more than a record company creation – a marketing ploy. I liked her song “Video Games”, but could leave the rest of her breakthrough album “Born To Die”. I found great schadenfreude in her dismal SNL performances and thought her career was over after that.
But my boyfriend loved her. And he CONSTANTLY played her album – and the ample remixes the songs spawned. Eventually I was worn down…I actually started to enjoy it. Then something happened…I started to LOVE it. By the time everyone else was over LDR, I was just discovering my love for her.
Maybe this whole “Lolita” character she came up with was all bullshit – can’t I just be entertained? Is it only ok for Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj to get away with playing a character because they have a dance beat backing their songs?
When I found out a new LDR album was coming out – and damn it SOON – my “sophomore slump” fears surfaced. “Born To Die” had so many catchy songs, could her new record possibly stand up next to it? It was doomed to failure after such a mega hit, right?
WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG.
“Ultraviolence” has solidified Lana as an actual artist instead of just a red-dress-red-lipstick-heart-shaped-sunglasses-wearing-studio creation. Gone are the hip-hop influenced beats and dramatic orchestration. Instead, we have a more stripped-down and stripped-back presentation. With more space in the music, the songs seem to slither along in a reverbed haze. And while she still has a way with words, the lyrics don’t have that “wink” in them…there’s more depth. However, lyrics and music aren’t the only things getting a different treatment – her voice shows more colors and textures than on “Born To Die”.
If fans are expecting a “Born to Die Part 2”, they will be very disappointed. Lolita’s grown up. No, these tracks won’t have your feet tapping as much – but do they have to? Isn’t that what remixes are for?
All 17 songs that are available to us are flawless (11 for the proper studio album and 6 bonus tracks), with the exception of “Flipside”, which is amazing but has the strangest second verse…like she didn’t know what she was going to write but had to put something down. Basically, I have to grasp at straws to say anything negative about this album, which I’m calling The Album of 2014 – until someone does something better (Róisín Murphy, I’m looking at you). Get it now on iTunes!
Stand-out tracks: “Ultraviolence”, “Brooklyn Baby”, “West Coast”, “Sad Girl”, “Money Power Glory”, “Guns and Roses”, “Is This Happiness?”
Favorite Lyric: “He used to call me DN – that stood for Deadly Nightshade.”
Rating: 5 out of 5 Smoke Signals!