CD Review: Lana Del Rey

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Lana Del Rey
Ultraviolence
Interscope
by David Chiu

Lana Del Rey’s latest full-length album Ultraviolence demonstrates that the singer is not a one-trick pony following the huge breakout success of Born to Die. Admittedly, I was one of those skeptics about Del Ray’s sadcore music and onstage sultry persona, not to mention the hype surrounding her. But Ultraviolence is actually a strong record and kind of grows on you after repeated listenings. There is something very compelling both in her femme fatale/black widow singing and very elaborately-crafted songs. While she is certainly part of the pop music genre, Del Ray also subverts it too in some ways like another provocateur, Madonna: for example, the record begins with a six-minute-plus spacey track called “Cruel World,” and then there’s a dream-like song titled “Fucked My Way to the Top.” No formulaic pop here as each track is pretty much moody and subdued: from the very gorgeous title track and bewitching “Brooklyn Baby,” to the dramatic yet sexy “Sad Girl,” and the tender predominately piano ballad “Old Money”; the album’s current single, “West Coast,” might be one of the album’s few uptempo tracks (did I hear a bit of a refrain from Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” on that song?), and that’s not saying much. Towards the end of Ultraviolence is fittingly “The Other Woman,” which definitely recalls a ’40s jazzy/blues torch song. Del Ray’s music and singing seems anachronistic in today’s pop music scene – but she’s minted a persona and style that recalls glamour and yet its melancholic downside. Take it from me from someone who kind of held out – after this record, you’ll be kind of hooked on her.

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