United we stand, divided we fall. Scotland my friends we are better together.
Anyway enough of politics because it makes me angry so we’ll crack on with an album review.
I was totally torn for L and it’s rebel ways but I have decided to go mainstream and current for a change by way of reviewing Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born to Die’. I wasn’t sure which album I wanted to review of hers as the new one is pretty flawless but the older one has some stronger hits and I’ve never listened to the debut. So I figured I’ll just start from the middle with this beautiful sad songstress.
Many people are surprised when I confess my love and admiration for LDR but I’m kind of surprised that they’re surprised. I think she’s a musical genius and controversially a good alternative role model. The reason being that when I was a teenager, I was sad. I buried myself in Sylvia Plath and Nirvana whilst repeatedly watching Girl Interrupted. I think it’s nice to have a sad artist in the mainstream for teenage girls (and boys) to have a wallow to because everyone needs a good wallow. I understand that there are a lot of counter arguments to that statement and I’ll probably agree with most of them but the sad teenage girl in me is kind of OK with LDR’s message.
I was exposed to LDR probably at the same time everyone else was. I remember being in Ireland with the BFF and him asking ‘Who the fuck is this Lana Del Ray everyone keeps going on about?’ that I think might have been the first time she took a seat in the awareness part of my brain before hearing ‘Born to Die’ on the radio everywhere.
My mum bought her album and I gave it a listen. I was kind of amazed. Here was yet another pop record of the last 5 years that didn’t suck, maybe there was hope for mainstream pop music after all and then I laughed in my own face for hours at my own stupidity. A good pop record is a gem among a sea of shit.
So without further ado here is my track by track rundown of Born to Die by Lana Del Ray.
Born to Die – This is a phenomenal track. It’s the ultimate sulk fest material. I love the dramatic production and delivery that really shows off that wallow role model material LDR radiates. I read an interview with LDR where she talked about walking the streets to just talk to strangers which is just so fucking beautiful and probably dangerous but that’s what is great about LDR, she has an edge. You can hear the darkness and the hopelessness in this song. It’s OK to feel like that and it’s OK to indulge. It’s great that the mainstream has an artist that kicks out sad jams like these to curl up to and cuddle into when you yourself are on the edge.
Off to the Races – Trip-hop isn’t really a sound I am familiar with or a fan of but the use of that sound here works really well. I love LDR’s variation of vocals. It’s spoken word meets a high pitched girlish vocal which highlights the message behind the lyrics that soundtrack the novel ‘Lolita’, the opening lines of the book being the line in the song ‘Light of my life, fire in my loins’. I haven’t read the book but I am familiar with the concept of an older man and a much, much younger girl. I think I have read that LDR has had a relationship with a much older man, so whether the book and the song are both relative to that relationship could be up for some speculation. LDR has been described as ‘a gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ and I think if you need the evidence for that statement you need look no further than this track.
Blue Jeans – LDR is a great storyteller and I enjoy the language she uses as it comes across quite diminutive. The way a lot of us sound when we are engaged and enraged in an argument over feelings. I like the throw in of musical inspiration of ‘you were sorta punk rock, I grew up on hip hop’ it’s a great nod to the different sounds LDR incorporates into her music. This album received a shed load of criticism for being ‘too’ melodramatic and don’t get me wrong this album and especially this song is the very definition of melodrama BUT that’s what makes this album so damn good. It’s like a re-imagining of the golden years of Hollywood through music. I really fucking like and miss that drama on the screen so it feels good to feel it somewhere in the entertainment business because there is a limit to how many times you can watch Vivian Leigh performances before your friends and family stage an intervention.
Video Games – This has a very vintage sound kind of harboring on that old school Hollywood sound I was just harping on about. I have just come to the horrible realization that I misheard one of the key lyrics and have been mooching around singing my own version. The lyric in question being ‘ I heard that you like the bad girls, honey is that true?’ and my own perverted version of ‘I heard that you make the bad girls horny, is that true?’ Oops. This is a really heartwarming fan recorded performance in Dublin that made me smile, it must be an amazing feeling to have words that you wrote sung back to you by a room full of people.
Diet Mountain Dew – There is a sense of naivety to this track. I love the vulnerability and the immature lyrics; they give me a nostalgic feeling for my teenage years. I think it’s unhealthy to want fizzy drinks so much and this is a fair warning of the health consequences. Drink more water it’s better for you.
National Anthem – This has a very regal intro and a smashing sense of humor. The great thing about making a serious melodramatic album whose hits include some of the most depressing songs of recent times is that there is a great canvas for sneaking in a silly little ironic pro ladyface number that is easily masked as just another melodramatic offering. This is a smart song, I love the girlish stupidity contrasted with the very strong message that society is money and status obsessed, it’s just brilliant.
Dark Paradise – The story is quite bittersweet and depicts the narrator as mourning for a lost love. The album is quite fascinated by the subject of death. The controversial interview LDR did earlier in the year upon the release of Ultraviolence that was criticized for her declaration of wanting to be dead was not the first time she expressed that wish. She’s a dark artist, there is a darkness in her music. I understand that romanticizing death can have many negative connotations but it’s a beautiful art form that has been drawn on for years. Not everyone who finds comfort in this music will kill themselves, the same as not everyone who plays violent video games will go and kill a bunch of people. It’s just another outlet for emotion and we can inspire that in whatever way we choose.
Radio – LDR has such a diverse and alluring range of vocals. This has quite a dream pop sound, it’s very cute and has a soft mix of beats that make you feel like you just ate far too many doughnuts but you don’t regret it for a second.
Carmen – And the loser is…I just don’t really feel anything from this track and it usually falls victim to the skip button. I couldn’t tell you that I dislike this song, I don’t. It’s just not floating my boat. It seems to reference ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ with the line ‘relying on the kindness of strangers’ but even that can’t get me to groove. You know how I feel about Vivian Leigh and I do love that consistent theme of the greatness of the old school golden years. NOBODY DOES FIVE MINUTE MONOLOGUES ANYMORE!
Million Dollar Man – So many references to the oldies. In this one we get an Elvis nod. Freaking Elvis, I love me some of the King. It’s a big throwback to those old club singers from the 50’s like Vera Lynn and Edif Piaff but with a bit more drama and darkness.
Summertime Sadness -And the winner is…Of course it is, like you’re surprised. This is just a fantabulous record. I feel sad almost instantaneously when I hear the opening violin synths. I have to say looking up the lyrics for this review has ruined my experiences somewhat. The misheard lyric here actually being ‘Telephone wires sizzling like your stare’ and my interpretation being ‘Telephone wires, I’m sizzling like a snail’ which I thought was really graphic imagery, it made me feel uncomfortable with the thought of a snail being sizzled in the hot sun. Turns out that was all in my own deluded head. The gorgeous Jamie King stars alongside LDR in the music video and it’s all very beautiful and guess what…it’s dark.
This is What Makes us Girls – This is a great anthem for female friendships during our teenage years. Everything seems so bloody important. I remember making a big deal about who my best friend was at school, kinda like it was a status. You had a best friend and a boyfriend but you’d always fuck over the best friend for the boyfriend because ‘We don’t stick together because we put love first’. It’s immature and bullshit, I grew up to prefer the best friends. It’s a nostalgic track about being a naughty teenage dirtbag and hey who can’t relate to that. I should note that for some bitches; they never will grow up and unfortunately this will always be a current as opposed to a nostalgic viewpoint on their relationships.
Born to Die was recorded between 2010 and 2011 but not released until January of 2012. There were a lot of finicky issues upon the release with producers not on board with her adopting a stage name and transforming from Lizzy Grant to Lana Del Rey, so after a bit of a battle she was successfully bought out of her record contract and signed with Stranger Records. I was 25 years old so not much difference to how I am now which is the problem with reviewing modern music, it doesn’t fit well with my nostalgic personification bits. That was the year I lost my right eye and went to Barcelona but I don’t think I relate the album to either of those events so I guess that’s a bit of a fail.
It did astoundingly well of course peaking at number one in the following countries Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, UK and the US of A. It did best in the UK and Germany hitting triple platinum a piece because we’re all a bunch of mardy bastards in Europe.
It’s a beautiful piece of musicianship. I don’t have much to say on the actual music as I’m pretty sure its all synthesizers and samples which is fine but you do tend to have to rely on the lyrical content alone if you don’t have people like The Knife or 65daysofstatic at the helm. However some of the live band performances as showcased in the link for ‘Off to the Races’. Go have a little listen, it’s the perfect soundtrack to a warm summer evenings drive which we perhaps have a couple left to squeeze in before those long winter nights.
I apologize for my last review mistake and reporting that The Kills’ ‘Keep on Your Mean Side’ was their second album it most certainly is not, it’s their debut I shall amend this atrocity ASAP. Why the hell do you even believer anything I say? I get all my information from Wikipedia and wallowing in my bedroom.
Thank so much for reading.
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