Artist: Lana Del Rey
Music: Universal Music
Price: Rs 395
It’s been a while since we realised that Lana Del Rey aka Lizzy Grant lives in a parallel universe, full of drugs and violence. A world where women love drug-addict men, get abused and wait for the same men to love them back. His slap feels like a kiss, she croons in the title track.
Her voice has a theatrical melancholy, a huge part of every song she puts out. The combination, for many in the past, has garnered mixed reviews, more bad than good. But her third outing sounds far stronger than her debut Born to Die and its follow up Paradise. And for this, a lot of credit needs to go to The Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach, who produced most of this record at his Nashville studio. The riffs are beautiful and the lyrics disturbing, a combination Del Rey thrives on.
The 11-track album opens with Cruel world, almost a seven-minute song. The reverb in the riff makes its point immaculately, and so does the sedated sexuality of Del Rey’s voice. This is followed by Shades of blue, where her operatic vocals soar above a minimalist arrangement. Del Rey tries hard to make it sound haunting. What wins all the brownie points is Auerbach’s blistering guitar solo. It’s an interlude that makes its appearance just before the final verse, but has that Dream on prelude quality to it in terms of energy.
Del Rey revels in the fact that her boyfriend is in a band, plays the guitar and that she “gets down to be poetry (Brooklyn baby)”. There are references to Lou Reed and some rare jazz collection. But as much as one tries to read between the lines, her internal world and its confusions and comforts begin to make less and less sense.
West coast is a completely different entity, musically. Thudding drums, staccato riffs and a straight sounding Del Rey. But then, soon enough, Del Rey returns to melancholy. The intense roove in this one brings her voice to the fore beautifully, albeit for a few moments.
But like the last two albums, a little past the first half, the album becomes a drudgery. Pretty when I cry has nothing new to offer, and the same goes for F***** my way to top. As she drawls while referring to her dark and twisted world, the feeling of fatigue sets in.
However, going by the first half of the album, no one can ignore that Del Rey is one of the most original pop performers to have surfaced in a long long time. To write her off would be sacrilege. We are waiting for her to break the monotony of drugs, sex and violence in a better way. Not sure if she wants to.