Saturday, 11 February 2012

Born To Die

Artist: Lana Del Rey
Album: Born To Die
Release Date: 27/1/2012

The newly re- developed Lizzy Grant certainly knows her way around a good pop tune, but it's with "Born To Die" as a whole that there are problems

It's not entirely common for artists, in terms of their appearance at least, to undergo a complete alteration unless their desire for money and success is so overbearingly great that the thought of selling less than a million records a year is more painful than being force- fed your own shit and skinned alive by Lady Gaga. Lizzy Grant, aka Lana Del Rey, failed miserably at overground progression with her debut in 2010, but 2011 marked her as the centrepiece of probably the year's biggest stylistic reformation. With her newly adopted Nancy Sinatra - esque "bad girl" look and two sultry, heartfelt and affecting anthems in "Blue Jeans" and "Video Games" that had a large proportion of the world's population weak at the knees, Grant cast herself as the next candidate to freshen up the world of pop since Gaga first emerged.

On "Born To Die" Grant certainly pursues a left- wing field, more a slightly stoned American version of Adele than the cheese- ridden party- pop of Katy Perry. And she certainly doesn't seem to have many problems working her way around a monolithic pop chorus. The title track is awash with glacial and dextrous string arrangements and a clinking trip- hoppy backtrack, whilst the chorus takes the song down an organically grandiose path. "Blue Jeans" builds up from a dark and subtely penetrating guitar riff, as well as managing to be an anthemic slow jam, something like a more instrumental Beyonce whilst keeping it interestingly crafted with a swirling cycle of samples. Some of the more understated moments are amongst the prettiest moments here, such as the blissfully blazed "Diet Mountain Dew" or the moody and graceful '60s soul- pop groove of "Million Dollar Man."

However, Grant's ideas of what makes a relevant, girly pop star seem to be awfully screwed at times. There are problems with the songs themselves. For example, "National Anthem", one of the more electronic tracks here, boasts an enormous, audacious and lyrically confident chorus, however the verses see Grant almost rapping, giving "Born To Die" its first rating on the cringe- factor. The record is also full to the brim with lyrical cliches, like on the pounding and glacial "Dark Paradise" as Grant pleads "I hope you'll be waiting for me on the other side."

Perhaps the biggest issue with Grant's new found idealism and image is her wannabe "bad girl" persona and her apparent lack of perspective. Closing track "This is what makes us girls" recounts times when Grant and her friends would stay up all night drinking. Firstly, it would be interesting to see what other women thought of Grant's general portrayal of how girls "are" throughout the song, but also staying up all night and drinking hasn't been enough to give you "bad girl" status since 1970.

Whilst "Born To Die" flashes streaks of brilliant tunefulness that will almost certainly rule the charts for weeks to come, for those amongst us who are fed up with the idea of the conventional pop star, Lana Del Rey doesn't exactly present a wholly welcome option. Sure, musically it's a world away from the fabricated synth- club crass heaviness of Gaga or Perry, but it's neither sophisticated or clever enough to appeal on that deep a level. Still, anybody who wants yet more huge but organic anthems and chart- stylised "heartfelt" pop, Lana Del Rey is a completely viable option.

Download: 1) Born To Die, 2) Blue Jeans, 3) Video Games
For Fans of: Florence & The Machine, Lady Gaga, Adele


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