Teasing with home made videos, the follow-up ‘Blue Jeans’, and an EP release while proclaiming herself the ‘gansta Nancy Sinatra’, Del Rey has proven to be the next big thing.
Seemingly recorded during late moody nights, in the midst of nicotine fumes and empty bottles of rum scattered on the studio floor, Born To Die scores the epic, through massively cinematic production. Each cut is as if it were a melodramatic scene from an old movie, where two embrace and lock lips in the moonlight or the middle of the rain. The numbers are grand, orchestral, almost theatrical.
Opening with the title-track, Lana’s fatalistic yet realistic outlook on love calls upon living today as if it were the last. ‘Off To The Races’ follows closely with an almost drunk delivery praising her man, and his flaws; the echoed tribal drums are amazing; one can easily visualize a mid-western themed scenario. ‘Blue Jeans’ and ‘Video Games’ are the most throwback tracks of the set, both portraying a playfully teasing vixen, who proclaims will love until the end of time, and undresses as her man indulges in interactive affairs; beautiful harp in the latter.
‘Diet Mnt Dew’, with jazz laced drums, and shouting out to New York City, is an old school musical bounce; not sure what she is addressing, but possibly an infatuation she knows isn’t good. Lana shines her best in the midtempo ‘National Anthem’ with double sided puns directed to rising the ‘flagpole’; starting with strings and faded out firecrackers, Del Rey whispers in a bandmarch-esque beat asking for standing ovations. ‘Dark Paradise’ is a rhyme bender, out-voicing fears of not being corresponded.
‘Radio’ is a too early ‘I’ve reached success’ bash statement, but is nonetheless a good laid-back number, shedding light on becoming relevant, now that she plays in the airwaves. ‘Carmen’ is a soap opera, a novel, and a film at once, introduced by a throaty sigh, it narrates the duality of a 17 year old femme fatale. The beat is imminent and close to sinister, with a disperse lire, piano, and a climactic build up during the chorus, while her tone remains level; its mesmerizing.
‘Million Dollar Man’ could’ve been easily taken straight out of a 1950’s saloon; beautiful, exotic and utterly fragile sounding; wouldn’t be surprised if they strapped fabric on a vintage microphone to record this. ‘Summertime Sadness’ is a reminisce and farewell to summer love. ‘This Is What Makes Us Girls’ closes the album featuring a lashing beat, empowering sisterhood and shouting out to womanhood; one of the moments where Lana sounds extra engaging within each verse.
Lana’s fast paced moment lies in about 10 seconds in the break of ‘Dark Paradise’, other than that, Lana plays the solemn and somber songstress throughout, emulating motifs of love lost, and even party favors in ‘Carmen’. Sometimes one is not exactly sure what she is singing about, but with instrumentation sounding this good, one could care less. Making references to American decadence, getting high and living the moment, the album is unbeliavable.
Lana may not be the strongest vocalist, but can make use of her limited range in hip-hop beats blended with a haunting orchestra and remarkable harp, that gives the songs a dreamy haze, and distinctive shine. Vocally, she sounds uninsterested, almost asleep, or around the corner of ‘I don’t give a fuck’, but this persona mixed with her husky tone, results in the dusted off feel vintage music had. Born To Die is very consistent, yet the songs don’t sound exactly like derivations of themselves, but continuations of an unraveling story.
The record’s flaw lies in its too impeccable production. It doesn’t drown Lana’s vocals, but it is so meticulous, it gives the sense of too much control, and calculation. If an album is minimally produced is an issue, and if its overproduced is yet another issue, but in this case, overproduction works in Lana’s favor, since it is so ear-catching and splendid, it is enough to grab one’s interest, and simply conclude ‘more is more’ compliments her.
Born To Die is exquisite indie pop. Many may consider it a total bore, due to the monotonous themes throughout, and its strong influences of sadcore and baroque pop, but then again, wouldn’t Adele’s 21 be as well?