“Every time I close my eyes, it’s like a dark paradise”. The theme couldn’t be more spot on for Lana Del Rey’s highly coveted debut. On the outside looking in, Born To Die is a prime definition of “Hollywood sadcore” but it’s also a poison of everything pop has sunk it’s sweet-to-the-touch fangs in for the past century. Del Rey’s custom description is a mere abbreviation to a vindictive compound of Marianne Faithfull and Brigitte Bardot with a liking for theatrical hip hop. Her voice, which mostly cradles a lower register, is sexually haunting. There are moments when higher notes are carried through present-day pop (“Off To The Races”, “National Anthem”), but they aren’t as effective as the stage singer appeal that remarkably gets intimate with Emile Haynes’ scarred rap production. Born To Die in a way, shares the same real life melodrama that Kid Cudi’s The Legend Of Mr. Rager succumbed to.
It’s just Lana Del Rey is only tainted with love’s dismal side and the way life can be a complete fuck-up the odd time, with her wading through doubt (“Born To Die”), the bliss of respect (“Radio”) and the dismal tint to the future (“Summertime Sadness”). As much as these songs are pleasant to zone out to, staring into the depths of reality, bottle in hand, they’re hard to remember. “Diet Mtn Dew” tries, watching Del Rey fancy a ghetto tempo that flirts with her voice, but nothing’s as triumphant in terms of being emotionally stirring as “Blue Jeans”. The track epitomizes her image, not the faceless charade but the 25-year-old who can string together James Dean, gangsters, punk rock, tears and limitless affection to push out a modern ballad that’s almost an anthem for losing a figment of love that’s relatively a mirage. In those three minutes, Del Rey attests Born To Die isn’t destined for a one hit-kill despite the sorority it came from. She is entwined with the tags “manufactured”, “artificial” and “fake”, drawing conspiracies of what makes an aritist, but how can a vocalist be fabricated if there isn’t an exact replication of her that exists in music? There’s a human touch to this classic pop and the heartache is an open wound.
Download: “Blue Jeans”, “Dark Paradise”, “Diet Mtn Dew”
[Find updates on album reviews, music news and videos on Twitter]