Lana Del Rey: Ultraviolence

23 Jun

I enjoyed Lana Del Rey’s 2012 album Born to Die. It was over-stylized and a little too easy to digest, but nevertheless good, intriguing music. Even if it painted in cliché, the album itself made an interesting whole and the pictures it drew were unique, if not wholly novel. Additionally, it was highly consistent and coherent, both of which are necessary for something that tries to be new. Ultimately though, the album failed to live up to its breakout single “Video Games” and similarly her second album Ultraviolence fails to live up to Born to Die.

The album starts well. The title track is a wonderful trip into her world. There is all of the theater that defines her work, the sounds and imagery writ large for none to miss. When she does well, she can do very well. Her voice drifts languorously through exquisite soundscapes. It’s hard to find music quite as evocative as her best.

Sadly, that doesn’t sustain long enough and the album collapses a little on itself. Her pose starts to feel tired and the album devolves in places to mere emotional hooks instead of actual statements. Additionally, the lyrics are bad enough to break the mood in places. I don’t really need her crooning that she’s a bad girl and the ending of “Brooklyn Baby” is so painfully obvious that actually saying it is just crude.

The album does sound quite different than Born to Die. This is slower and less catchy, but more rich and atmospheric, more theatrical. This is still very clearly a Lana Del Rey album though and there are not enough of those around. No one else makes pop that sounds like hers. All told, this is a quite reasonable album and she does get points for uniqueness, but this is still nothing more than reasonable.


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