Review Summary: Maybe judgementalism isn't always a bad thing.
If you’re into your clichés, then you’ll no doubt believe that one should never judge a book by it’s cover, but in the case of Lana Del Rey we may have been better off reaching an appearance-based conclusion. That approach can often go hand in hand with first impressions, but first impressions are what the majority of us did judge Lana Del Rey on, and in truth they could scarcely have been any better. ‘Video Games,’ to be quite frank is one of the finest songs released by anybody over the past few years, and subsequent singles ‘Born To Die’ and ‘Off To The Races’ did little to curb the enthusiasm ahead of this major label debut. Sadly, though, now that it has finally dropped, it looks as if all of those critics bemoaning a perceived “lack of authenticity” may actually have had a point.
I could waste hundreds of words gushing about the sheer splendour and cultural impact of 'Video Games,' but I suppose you're all sick of hearing about that by now. More to the point, though, that and the other two aforementioned singles are the best songs on Born To Die
by an almost embarrassing margin. Forget all of the issues regarding fakeness and writing credits, it couldn't be more obvious that these songs have been hurriedly conceived with a view to capitalising on the buzz that those singles created, and as a result the gulf in quality is gaping. It doesn't help that the album is so front-loaded. Those three singles (along with notably lesser companion 'Blue Jeans') all appear within the first four tracks, so while proceedings get off to a good start the slide from then on in is both steep and prolonged.
Of the eight remaining cuts, 'Radio' is perhaps the only one that could be categorised as passable, with the rest ranging from below-average to down right pathetic. 'National Anthem' is an obvious target, with its attempt at glorious unity bombing spectacularly, but sadly it's far from being the worst offender here. 'Carmen' and 'Million Dollar Man,' for instance, are shockingly feeble, offering next to nothing in the way of effective hooks and finding the singer crooning along devoid of both purpose and personality. In truth, her vocals are far from convincing throughout the majority of the record, and they certainly aren't strong enough to carry such poor songs. It's a flaw which proves fatal given that that seductive purr is arguably the most appealing attribute on show here - certainly more so than the insipid overproduced beats or the tiresome oversexualised lyrical themes.
No matter how serious the album's problems, nothing can detract from just how wondrous it's best moments are. It's a shame then that they'll probably be forgotten in the midst of negativity that this album will give rise to, but by and large they're self-inflicted wounds, so it's hard to feel much sympathy. The critics who picked her apart may have seemed out-of-order at the time, but as it happens it’s they who are having the final laugh. Indeed despite the enduring brilliance of those singles, Born To Die
is unfortunately an album which flops just as badly as all of those hipsters dicks when it emerged that Lana Del Rey may (or may not) have gone under the knife.
DISCLAIMER: I, for, one believe those rumours to be entirely false.