Lana Del Rey - Born to Die
The starlet's debut album outshines the blogocentric hype
Amid the conspiracy theories, the double-standards, the cosmetic surgery obsessions, the questions of authenticity (or lack thereof – like pop was ever without a scheme); amid the histrionic revelations (how dare she have tried before!) and the barbs about tentative TV appearances (how dare she be fallible!); and amid the implication that Lizzy Grant as Lana Del Rey is not so much an American singer as a dead-eyed pop-cultural Frankenstein, nefariously tacked from the fabric of vintage Hollywood, Britney Spears, Kurt Cobain, hip-hop and Nancy Sinatra – there is this: an album.
Rather than measuring Born To Die against ‘Video Games’ – the inimitable first single from Del Rey’s major-label debut – it pays to view that song’s smoky, filmic reverie as a blueprint whose musical arrangements (plucked strings, big beats, twanged guitars), lyrical themes (dissipation, wealth, male fixation, death becoming us) and cultural touchstones (old movie stars, Less Than Zero) resound throughout the LP, conveyed via Del Ray’s offhand cigar-drawl (and occasional jarring falsetto).
Highlights include the title track’s ‘Crying Game’ pop-noir, the Lolita-esque urban swagger of ‘Off to the Races’ and the Broadway swoon-pop of ‘Radio’. That last one will require a censored edit for the airplay it is guaranteed, and with it Del Ray will come under more fire for the cardinal sin of attracting attention. To think that she might have planned it this way: to have us all recognise her name and her face; to bag maximum exposure and worldwide success; to become a famous pop star.