Album Review: Born to Die – Lana Del Rey

This girl seems to be everywhere at the moment, so I thought I’d throw in my 2c on her debut album.

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Released:
January 2012
Label:
Interscope, Polydor
Genre: Pop
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Blue n' White

She's deadly serious.

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TRACK LISTING

1. Born to Die
2. Off to the Races
3. Blue Jeans
4. Video Games
5. Diet Mountain Dew
6. National Anthem
7. Dark Paradise
8. Radio
9. Carmen
10. Million Dollar Man
11. Summertime Sadness
12. This is What Makes Us Girls

Amidst this refreshingly anti-Gaga pop music landscape where female vocalists can be successful by relying on their voices and their voices alone, and building on the success of the likes of Adele and her terrific efforts, New Yorker Lana Del Rey (not her real name) has emerged in a hurricane of hype. In no time flat she has amassed the sales success to back up this hype thanks to her first major label release Born to Die. After happening upon this album through a family member’s wallet, I have only two questions. Where on earth did this come from and how can I get more?

Del Rey is an incredible vocalist with a range to rival most divas on the pop music scene at present and Born to Die does an exceptional job of showcasing this range. It does this by parading a series of unique tracks, each exploring a different purpose for Del Rey to mould her voice toward. The album’s lyrics breach a number of themes, from the cliched to the unusual, but a hard, rough edge accompanies every step of the odyssey from Born to Die‘s start to its finish to ensure the talented artist at its helm carves out her own aural niche.

The title track opens proceedings with an orchestral flourish that ushers in a self-assured beat to accompany Del Rey’s morbid message. A hypnotic drawl punctuates her vocals in this opener as well as the beginning of Off to the Races, which moves quickly between said drawl in the verses and a hyperbolic flirtatious squeal in the chorus. Blue Jeans adds a growl to the vocal shenanigans and lead single Video Games packs a slow, hauntingly brilliant tune complete with harp accompaniment.

Diet Mountain Dew is an enjoyable snapshot of the naive ingenue, which is immediately contrasted by the first of the album’s two peaks: the brazen National Anthem flies in the face of the GFC and its chorus soars. The album middles out with the mediocre Dark Paradise and the bland token-f-bomb-athon Radio, but it picks up again right away with the wonderfully open-ended ode Carmen.

It is Million Dollar Man that truly dominates the album, however. The best kind of old school vibe permeates the airy flow of the song, backed by a dingy back-alley interpretation of a classic vaudeville number. The harmony-rich Summertime Sadness serves as the penultimate chapter of Born to Die, leading into This is What Makes Us Girls, a malleable anecdote for the ages.

If the success of Lana Del Rey’s debut release is any indication, modern pop music is in good shape. The creative variety that pulses through Born to Die is an absolute audio treat that ensures both Del Rey’s future prospects and the fact that the edgy album will remain appreciated for years to come.

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THE VERDICT

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Strongest Tracks:
Born to Die, Off to the Races, Video Games, National Anthem, Carmen, Million Dollar Man
Weakest Tracks:
Dark Paradise, Radio
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515/110A M A Z I N G

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