This review was originally published in Lot’s Wife Edition 5: Identity
Lana Del Rey is everything that is ‘anti-girl’ at the moment. She doesn’t consider herself a feminist, she considers herself a “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”, and while other female popstars are carefully creating their image on the basis of sexuality and sex, Lana (or Lizzy Grant) prefers the star-crossed era of the 60s and the 70s. Everything from the big hair, the pouty lips to the overt themes of Americana coupled with the opulence and self-loathing are all archetypical of the pop music culture of 2014. Her idealisation of the bad is reflected in her music and the carefully designed image she portrays. Take, for example, a recent interview with The Guardian in which she expressed her desire to be dead, much like her idols Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain. These comments could easily come off as just another flippant comment by another attention-seeking popstar; but when Frances Bean Cobain chastises you for that same comment, that is when you know that you’re not just an anti-popstar, but THE anti-popstar.
Del Rey’s second album was one that was highly anticipated after the release of her debut “Born to Die” in 2012. Named in honour of “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess, the album touches upon themes of drugs, sex, violence and power. These themes are not only typical of Del Rey’s songs, but there are also key differences in the execution of this particular album.Here, Del Rey’s sophomore effort is much less erratic than in her 2012 debut. In Ultraviolence, she passes off her regular production duties to Black Keys frontman, Dan Auerbach. Auerbach finetunes Lana’s songs (which are about sadness, self-degredation and a general “fuck it all” attitude) into swaying rock beats. The melodies created by Auerbach and Del Rey are relaxing and to an extent numbing, in turnallowing you to enter Del Rey’s psyche. It is extremely easy to lose yourself whilst listening in this album
The opening track, Cruel World, transports you directly to the bustling image of 1960s Americana that Lana portrays. She slurs over the thumping drums about how “fucking crazy” she is, but, the strength of this track and the following tracks is a pre-set of the rest of her homogenised album
Although, in all honesty, after the album’s lead single “West Coast”, it all sounds the same. 20 minutes of Lana singing about the same themes, over the same beat and the same rhythm.
However, if you listen to each track individually whilst dissecting the lyrics , you will find a compelling story. For example, Del Rey sings about an abusive relationship in the title track, and the throes of fame and power in “Money, Power, Glory” and “Fucked My Way Up To The Top”. Each song is well written, and each song is a complete story in itself with a connecting time completing the album as a whole. Listening to Ultraviolence in its entirety allows you to lose focus and truly appreciate the record.
In effect, Lana’s sophomore effort is more cohesive, more meticulous andmore Lana than ever before. It is well produced and there isn’t a single song that doesn’t grate on the ears. It has proven to be a better CD than Born to Die was, both from reviews by various critics and commercially.
Beware of over listening to this album as it surely isn’t a never fading classic and you may get sick of it far too quickly.