Wednesday, 1 February 2012

i heard that you like the bad girls, honey is that true?

There's no surprise really, that on Monday, the one thing on my list of priorities (apart from prolonging my lie-in for as long as possible) was going onto itunes to download a copy of Lana Del Rey's eagerly anticipated debut album "Born To Die".  

From the second I discovered her, flicking through the music channels one rainy day, I became instantly transfixed by the haunting beauty of "Video Games" (below) as well as developing a penchant for the crazy Miss Paz De La Huerta after her cameo in the video.  For those who don't know who Paz De La Huerta is, youtube her.  She's a drunken hot mess and I love her. 

And so, like a junkie I've been fiending to get another fix of LDR.  Much safer than a fix of LSD, I'm sure you'll all agree. I am officially a Lana Del Rey enthusiast.  Read enthusiast as stalker.  And with 15 meaty tracks, "Born To Die" certainly does not disappoint.   

Lana Del Rey, real name Elizabeth Grant, is a 25 year old New Yorker who doesn't hide the fact she had an extremely privileged upbringing - she wouldn't be out of place amongst the Blair and Serena's of the world.  

She has been described as a "self-style gangster Nancy Sinatra" (and aside from the fact she's drop dead gorgeous and wouldn't look out of place on the cover of a 1960s Vogue, all dough-eyed and pouting in her sex-kitten fashion) Lana brings a well needed touch of old-school class and theatrics to an industry drowning in a sea of auto-tuned, carbon copy mannequins.  Imagine the best parts of Nancy Sinatra, Kate Bush, Paloma Faith and Lykke Li crammed into one perfectly presented package, and you have Lana Del Rey.

Opening the album is the title track, which does a pretty good job of showing how the album means to go on.  Bold orchestral soundtracks with melancholy harmonies strung over hip-hop influenced beats, peppered with bitter-sweet lyrics of love lost, ill-fated romances and times gone by, all whilst being sung alternating between a voice with the ability of being seductive husky in one breath and bone-chillingly sad in the next.  Not to mention the fact the whole album is so well produced, reminiscent of Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy", almost too well produced; it's rich in emotion, jam-packed with stringed instruments and brimming full of killer lyrics.  

LDR is guaranteed to strike a chord with the melodramatic and the souls amongst us who have experienced heartache and break.  I'm not ashamed to say I'm one of them.    Listen to  "Summertime Sadness", "Dark Paradise" and "Lucky Ones" at your own risk, you could end up in tears.  Especially you know, when it's your time of the month and a clip of a hamster getting put down on Animal Hospital can leave you emotionally bereft.  Slow indie-pop ballads with a retro feel seems to be what Lana does best.  

"Off To The Races" is a slightly macabre number with obvious sexual undertones, which could well be the musical interpretation of Vladimir Nabokov's infamous Lolita, with the opening lines of the book being recycled as lyrics- "light of my fire, light of my loins".  LDR's own nymphoesque contribution of "I'm your little scarlet, starlet, singing in the garden" paints a rather seedy picture in your mind of a very young girl desperately lusting over an older (perhaps creepy) man.  Perhaps what is more disturbing is that LDR sings in a way which is unsettlingly child-like, something which is prominent throughout the album, most notably on "Lolita" (surprise, surprise) and the beloved "Video Games".  

The glamorous lifestyle Lana has always known has been a blatant inspiration.  In between the melancholy and despair, we're given lovely delicious little slices of the opulent and hedonistic lifestyles lead by the privileged upper-class, even if it does feel slightly arrogant.  The best examples of this are in "Radio" ("my life is sweet like cinnamon, like a fucking dream I'm living in") and "National Anthem" ("money is the reason we exist, everybody knows it, it's a fact").  All this is done whilst injecting a satisfying dose of wholesome Americana in the form Western style guitar and banjo, putting LDR in very good stead if there ever was another Bond Film; I can imagine her penning the soundtrack, or even starring as a Bond girl.  Imagine Shirley Bassey's "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Goldfinger" with even more attitude, an added hip-hop beat and a little brashness.  

For £9.99, the deluxe edition was well worth the money.  So, if you've read this and think you'd enjoy, get yourself on itunes.  If you don't want the whole album, the tracks are available for 99p each.  I've put together a mini-listing which I think best encapsulates "Born To Die."

Video Games
Born To Die
National Anthem
Blue Jeans
Off To The Races
Lucky Ones

Overall, the album will no doubt allow Lana to make significant impact on the mainstream music industry.  One criticism of the album is that there doesn't seem to be any tracks which feel genuinely positive or uplifting - however, all tracks are moving in a sad, brooding kind of way.  I would have loved to have heard more hip-hop rhythms and synths, but otherwise, a cracking debut which has already earnt it's place amongst my most played on itunes.

Rating: 4/5


  1. She is gorgeous- i have MAJOR hair envy! x

  2. Same here! Ahhhh makes me wish I never cut my hair off! :( x

  3. I can't wait to get this! I would download it but I'm a bit of a grandma I like CDs haha. xx