Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence (4 stars)

The divisive singer's second album conjures an alternative underbelly of an after-dark West Coast

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Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

(Interscope/Polydor)

It’s not hard to source opinions on Lana Del Rey. Seemingly anti-meh personified, the critical convulsions following the global crush on ‘Video Games’, where opinions on the authenticity or otherwise of the artist were mandatory, threatened to eclipse the music itself – which is a shame, as it’s great.

Her second album proper, Ultraviolence, continues the sad Hollywood slo-mo of Born To Die, but ditches the electronics and hip hop influence in favour of reverb-drenched guitars, crushed drums and even-more-ghostly vocals in conjuring the gothic noir. The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach’s perfectly pitched production brings with it a blues influence that takes us a zone further into the dirge of Lynchian noir, and it relies less on trademark lush strings to conjure the mid-century glamour, instead taking us to an alternative underbelly of after-dark West Coast where guitar solos and real drums live. Should doubts remain, period references pepper the lyrics: ‘The sun also rises’ in ‘Money Power Glory’; the title track quoting ‘He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)’, the none-more-eerie Gerry Goffin- and Carole King-penned 1964 hit; and a cover of ‘The Other Woman’, a 1959 song popularised by Nina Simone.

The strung-out lounge never gets too baked to stay in the room, though, and there’s plenty of modern-day edge to keep things in the foreground. Witness ‘I get high on hydroponic weed’ in hipster-baiting ‘Brooklyn Baby’, and ‘Mimicking me is a fucking bore’ in standout ‘Fucked My Way Up to the Top’. While others may continue their attempt to unpick a non-existent riddle to progress beyond a level of understanding they feel dissatisfied with, the rest of us can enjoy the show. Ultraviolence is a coherent piece of work that proves what many hope to disprove: Lana Del Rey is the real deal.


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