ALBUM REVIEW – LANA DEL REY – BORN TO DIE – TRACK BY TRACK
I’ve been excited about doing this review for a while now, Lana Del Rey is one of a very few number of artists to transfer her YouTube fame into something more substantial..that of a record contract and an album. Born to Die has been surrounded by hype, never have I seen so much written about an artist, or an artist featuring in so many magazines before a debut album release.
Before writing this review I think I should explain what I’ve thought of Lana so far, basically I like her, I like her style, her hair and most importantly her deep and interesting voice. I think her live performances have been pretty good and have given her the benefit of the doubt on her SNL debut…she just sounded and looked very nervous to me, which is fair enough really when you don’t have much experience of performing on such a big platform.
What I’d like from ‘Born to Die’ is a cohesive set of songs, I like it when an album flows and I think artists have lost this art of late, and who can blame them when individual songs can be hand-picked out on an album digitally.
Anyway, I am starting to blabber, let’s get on with a track-by-track review of Born to Die:
- Born to Die – this always puts me in mind of a French Kate Bush, it’s a slightly rousing track with minimalist instrumentals and a rather ‘flat’ vocal from Lana making for a haunting song. I’m not sure in what situation I’d want to listen to this track in though, the lyrics seem to me to reflect that she has rather given up on a situation and is seeking refuge in a man as after all they were ‘born to die.’
- Off to the Races – we get to here the higher parts of Lana’s voice on this track, it’s kooky again but has more of a beat to it. In this song she sounds much more innocent, more like a clueless, doe-eyed girl. Her vocals when she sings ‘you are my one true love’ at the end of the track are beautiful.
- Blue Jeans – again I’m a big fan of the story-telling aspect of this song, I’m not so keen on her vocals though, it becomes quite hard to distinguish what she is saying in the verses. Again I prefer it when her vocals stretch up to the higher parts of the song, favourite lyric ‘But you fit me better than my favorite sweater’ to describe her falling in love with this man who eventually walks out on her. She states at the end of the song that ‘I would wait a million years’ for her lover to return.
- Video Games – this is really the song that launched Lana, it’s a hard track to top, it brings to mind for me like the sadder side of Hollywood and glamour. Again it’s an old-fashioned love song, she talked about wearing his favourite sun-dress, putting on his favourite perfume and sings to him that everything she does is for him. It’s romantic but it’s the kind of romance that sort of sticks in your guts…you’re not sure if her devotion for his man has gone too far and she’s obsessed with this person or if something terrible has happened…maybe this sounds a little odd but I almost think of it as a lost love…perhaps someone who has passed. It’s a haunting track.
- Diet Mountain Dew – this song sees Lana going after a man who isn’t suitable for her, she sings ‘you’re not good for me, but baby I want you’ it’s got a bit of sparking piano in the track but following Video Games it passes me by somewhat.
- National Anthem – this track starts with some violins and horse sounds! I like the idea of a person being your ‘National Anthem’ almost like Lana is the Queen of that person, it’s a song build around a man again and tells the story of Lana trying to keep up with him and his high-class ways. At the same time it’s also about Lana dominating this man and getting him to tell her that she’s his National Anthem. I really like the anthemic nature of this track, it’s a stand out track for me.
- Dark Paradise – this song again is a little melancholic, she sings that she wishes she was dead…in her imagination and dreams it’s a ‘dark paradise’ which could suggest a pretty deep sadness. Having said that I like the stricture and musicality of this song, her voice sounds lovely and pure in some places and the chorus definitely sticks in your head.
- Radio – again I like the lyrics in this song, to me it’s a f*ck you song, Lana sings about how she’s getting played on the radio, she’s living in LA and the track finishes with the line ‘how do you like me know?’ Some may not like the ‘look how I’ve struggled’ aspects to the song though.
- Carmen – I’m not sure about this track, the French part feels unnecessary to me and I can’t quite work out what the message of the song is, it seems to be about a 17 year old girl who is an alcoholic and has seen too many horrible things. The character seems to be putting on a show but it tragically sad inside. I’m not sure whether it’s a nod to Carmen the Opera where Carmen ends up getting into a love triangle of sorts and gets murdered by one of her jealous lovers.
- Million Dollar Man – a song about Lana’s inability to love a man who seems to tick all the boxes for her on paper, again I’m not so keen on this song again, it would be nice to have one happy song!
- Summertime Sadness – perhaps this isn’t the happy song I was looking forward! Never-less I end up really liking this song, there aren’t many songs about feeling sad in summer, one of my favourite lyrics was ‘Telephone wires above are sizzlin’ like your stare’ – you can just imagine what she means in this lyric and imagine the sun beating down on your head…this song could be made into a movie!
- This is What Makes Us Girls – a song about Lana’s childhood, she sings about 16 year old kids running from cops in white bikini tops and angles in the fact that girls will put love above everything else.
Sounds like – Kate Bush, Portishead, Sheryl Cole, Glasvegas, Sinead O’Connor, Radiohead