‘Born to Die’ by Lana Del Rey

Rating: ★★★☆☆

It was a friend at college who suggested I listened to Lana Del Rey and I’m not quite sure why. For most female singers, there’s a real challenge to be something different, as opposed to being constantly compared to the likes of Hayley Williams or Beyonce for that matter. Lana Del Rey, yes, she makes her own sound, but my first impression what that she shouldn’t have bothered.

That was my first impression though. Born To Die is the singers second album but features a mixture of success and songs for the bin. Her strong voice can take some use getting used to if you are expecting long notes and powerful choruses. There’s a feeling that her singing is too much effort but the lyrics are deep and a little controversial in parts. Her songs are simply written, and in respect are very powerful too.

The opener, which lives under the album title, is a little lazy but shows off the characteristics I just highlighted. It comes across in parts like she is relying too much on the music to carry the song forward, but on listening deeper in to the lyrics, it is actually a cleverly written piece of music. Off To The Races follows the same pattern as the song before and a mixture of vocal textures adds some variation in the song with a softer more feminine voice during the chorus’ and then a somewhat harsher sound in the verses which is what sounds lazy and recorded with only half effort bringing.

I had to listen to Blue Jeans a couple of times before I think I got it, but even now I’m unsure. In the first few listens, it came across as if Lana has a split personality with the difference in vocal textures. One line would be softer and the next will be the opposite. I’m not sure what she was trying to achieve, but it doesn’t feel accomplished whatever it was meant to be. The first song that I can finally say is okay appeared next.

By this point, I had got used to Lana’s irritating voice and the calm introduction slowly built up beneath her voice. For once, the song felt ‘naturally written’, and Video Games progresses calmly with strings and piano throughout. I’m thinking that if she built the album with this texture in mind, things would sound a lot cleaner – as opposed to the jumping about that has put me off so much in previous songs. The build up took longer than expected and didn’t quite full fill my expectations, but it was a nice break from the other offerings. It was a much needed break before Diet Mountain Dew, which is not only going back to the monotonous lazy recordings as heard before, but its also a little stalkerish I think. What follows is what I would think is another Born to Die or Off to the Races, but instead, National Anthem begins and proves me wrong.

After a long struggle, the filling that is so desperately needed through the album so far has finally made it and the songs progresses fully with not only great lyrics, but also confident melodies and excellent music into what is actually a great song. It’s a success that Dark Paradise is able to continue the themes from the excellent hit before, while adding a little variation to what made National Anthem such a winner.

But this is slowly becoming the album I would only listen to when doing the washing up, and even then it’d only come on after cheesy musical hits. Radio and Carmen are two odd songs that I can’t quite explain. While the first is almost empty in every way, the second is a struggle to enjoy. Lana’s voice slowly becomes irritating again and you soon wish the album was over but on seeing that there are a few more songs left, well my heart began to stop. Million Dollar Man, confidently retrieves some sanity as while keeping within the ‘sound’ of the album, it has some new features and takes a new take on things which is appreciated.

You’re take back to Born to Die as Summertime Sadness goes back to an inch of desperation and hinting back at a reliance for a good backing track. Its lyrics, like the other songs, are full and meaningful. The ending however, goes back to the questions as well, the vocal faded and then, well, the music just, stopped. Nothing happened! It was like the producers ran out of tape, its pretty awful.

This Is What Makes Us Girls follows and draws the album to a nice close by bringing what really are the best features of the eleven songs previously into something that is actually worth calling a song.

 

Artist:  Lana Del Rey
Release Name:  Born to Die
Type:  Album
Date:  2012, January 31st
Purchase Link:  http://bravadousa.com/lanadelrey/
Artist Info:  http://www.lanadelrey.com
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