Lana Del Rey seems to be the artist on everyone’s mind this week. The 25-year-old singer-songwriter’s debut album Born To Die is undeniably one of the most anticipated debut albums in recent memory and just about everyone has something to say about it. Whether you are overly obsessed or have already dismissed her, this is definitely an album that deserves a good listen.
Pushing aside all preconceived notions of Lana Del Rey, Born To Die is without a doubt a solid debut album. Giving the album a listen I couldn’t help but feel like it was something fresh and interesting; a true mix of sounds and pop culture references that shouldn’t blend, but magically do. Coined the “Gangster Nancy Sinatra” by her label, Lana lives up to the persona that she seems to be slyly crafting for herself. I feel as though I could invite my grandfather to listen to Born To Die and he would actually enjoy and appreciate it. Unfortunately, he would also probably ask me what she’s talking about most of the time.
The album starts off in true dramatic form with the romantic and dreamy title track “Born To Die” in which Del Rey coos about longing for one of her loves. She invites him, or us, to “Come and take a walk on the wild side,” only if we like our girls insane. Luckily, I do. Luckily, I am also immediately drawn to cinematic elements, something this song is bursting with. From the lavish and bloody music video, to the fact that it musically sounds like an overly dramatic scene in a love movie, I can’t seem to get enough. The second track “Off To The Races” has vocal inflections that instantly leave me wanting to hear more. The juxtaposition of her airy, girly vocals over the hard-hitting beat are intoxicating, to say the least.
“Blue Jeans” has been an early favorite and one I can’t talk about without remembering how obsessed I was with it after first hearing it in the mid summer; the entire experience is like reminiscing about a first love. That is the kind of reaction I cherish in music. “Video Games” is easily one of the most beautiful moments on the album. In fact, it is almost too pretty to talk about. If you haven’t heard it, or heard about it, or heard about the SNL performance of it, chances are you are either dead or living under a rock. It’s haunting melody and vintage feel still stops me dead in my tracks.
“Diet Mountain Dew” has turned out to be one of my favorite songs on the album. It has the most obvious Hip-Hop influences in the beat, yet stays true to Del Rey‘s style. I’m not quite sure about the soft drink reference, but I don’t really care at this point. Even with random soda lyrics, something about the line “Diet mountain dew, baby, New York City, never was there ever a girl so pretty, do you think we’ll be in love forever?” really resonated with me at this particular point in my life. I would love a NYC-inspired visual for this song.
“National Anthem” is lyrically Born To Die‘s best moment. The play on words throughout the chorus “I’m your national anthem, God you’re so handsome” hint and play with national themes in such a simple way that is captivating. The innuendos between whether she’s talking about a boyfriend or the actual state of America, or both, really stuck with me long after hearing the song. One of Lana‘s best.
Tracks like “Dark Paradise,” “Carmen,” and “Million Dollar Man” musically all brought me back to the 90’s. I feel like in another life they could have been epic pop ballads during that era. Lyrically the songs have nothing to do with that time but it’s a fun reference for such melancholy songs. “Million Dollar Man” is one of the albums finest moments.
What is clearly evident throughout the album is the usage of the harp. I mentioned in my Florence + The Machine review how much I enjoy them, but god damn do I really love the way a harp sounds. Lana has been able to craft a style and sound that sonically didn’t particularly exist before. Born To Die is an extremely cohesive album filled with glorious melodies and cinematic production. I’m not quite sure if that’s why we are all so captivated by Lana or if that’s why so many are eager to watch her fail (the norm in today’s society) but she managed to deliver an album that already has us anticipating her next move. Gritty, poetic, somewhat depressing, romantic, and plainly observational. Born To Die has a musical landscape like a dreamy haze. A very stylish dreamy haze. 4/5
– This review was brought to you by Jon ALi & Amanda ‘Bergz’ Berghorn –