'Born To Die' by Lana Del Rey has been one of the most hyped albums of 2012 so far. Daniel Fahey gives his verdict.
The inordinate reworking and re-reading of the Lana Del Rey back story leaves but one real clue: her first release, as Lizzie Grant, never really made it further than iTunes. Much more has been made of the speculations shrouding the 25-year-old: column inches inked with words on her supposed surgery and father’s wealth, while the music press questioned her authenticity.
But very few artists fulfil the hyperbolic potential created by journalists, especially as a silencing response to inauthenticity. Pop music is fashioned on the elaboration and exaggeration of character or persona; only over-exposure and today’s self-administration of Twitter help diminish the myth.
Lana Del Rey’s image of pouting American suburbia doesn’t quite run parallel to the finer forlorn arrangements from ‘Born To Die’ but the lyrical nods towards passion (“I love you more than those bitches before”) and a desperation of desire (“We don’t need no money/We can make it all work”) gratify the marriage of music and themes on ‘Blue Jeans’.
‘Video Games’ stands as a centrepiece – a masterful and bedevilling pop song that indulges in harp strokes and drips of strings. Similar orchestration looms throughout, largely paired with deviations of hip hop beats, but her best numbers do without their clatter.
‘Diet Mountain Dew’ works thanks to drawn violas and the jazz-hue of Portishead and ‘Summertime Sadness’ swirls melancholically, but clearly there is an onus on continued mainstream notoriety as well, a point made by the commercially-minded 80s thwomp of ‘Dark Paradise’.
‘Off To The Races’ and ‘National Anthem’ derail the overall ambience by leaning too closely to the R&B formula bestowed by the current and more popular US chanteuses, but as first attempts go this is a brawny and restorative effort at the worn female pop template, it was just never going to be the release the hype machine wanted.
‘Born To Die’ is out on 30 January on Polydor.
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