Review Summary: A rerelease that serves no other purpose than to solidify what we already know about Del Rey, with a few excellent tracks tagged on for good measure.
If you are reading this right now, Lana Del Rey probably needs no introduction. The big lipped, long eyelash, pouting 50’s throwback singer has stirred up some of the most divided opinions of herself in recent memory. Many people were first introduced to her from her utterly awkward and horrendous performance on the American television program Saturday Night Live, while others, her fans, idolize her and have followed her since her beginnings as the blonde bombshell, trailer park queen, Lizzy Grant.
Despite the Saturday Night Live incident, Lana’s debut album, Born To Die, was still a success, reaching the top spot on the charts in a number of countries. The album was preceded by a number of singles such as, the title track, which has one of the most beautifully directed music videos I have ever seen, and the hit song, Video Games. The singles, and the album as a whole, are slow, cinematic, emotionally draining, but goddamn beautiful. The fact is, Del Rey is not the best singer, as she so clearly showed on SNL, but she can write lyrics with the best of them and her voice, though frail, can convey the emotion of her words well enough.
When the Born To Die album cycle had made its rounds, Del Rey hopped on the increasingly popular trend in pop nowadays and announced the rerelease, Born To Die-The Paradise Edition. The rerelease features eight (nine if you count the iTunes bonus track) new songs along with the original album.
Paradise as a whole is good, not quite as consistent as Born To Die, but it is enjoyable nonetheless. Although I can tell you now, if you were not a fan of Del Rey before, Paradise is not going to change your opinion. Sonically and lyrically, the new songs follows the same formula of the original album, featuring romanticized drug references, not so subtle sexual innuendos, and strings galore in typically Lana fashion.
The lead single and first track, “Ride” is yet another beautifully penned song by Del Rey with a slow building opening that leads in to an uplifting chorus, a bit reminiscent of “National Anthem” from Born To Die. Her voice sounds decent throughout, though gets a bit drowned in the strings towards the climax of the song. With “Ride” though, the stage is set for what is to follow, but unfortunately, that is the releases biggest downfall. Besides a few head turning lines, the album does not throw many curve balls, with practically no variety style-wise making Paradise as a whole potentially quite boring for a non-diehard Del Rey fan.
The best example would be, “Yayo,” which is by far one of the biggest bores of the album and is also the most stereotypical “Lana Del Rey song.” The drawn out chorus and boring instrumentation makes it, not horrible, just not attention grabbing. Unfortunately when doing a rerelease, there is no room for filler tracks such as this. Not to mention that the song itself has actually been around since the Lizzy Grant days, making many long time fans wonder why it was included her at all and not something fresh.
Perhaps the biggest attraction to this rerelease is for the lyrics though, Lana’s words are often witty, mildly stupid, but fun when not taken too seriously. My two personal favorites from the album, and probably the two most interesting songs are “Gods & Monsters” and “Cola.” The latter features the oh so captivating opening line, “My pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola,” (like I said, stupid), but the song is an interesting listen throughout especially when it gets to the bridge in which the usually vocally restrained Del Rey finally breaks loose and just wails. Though it’s brief, it gives the song just a little hint of differentiation that it needs. Then the wonderfully raunchy “Gods & Monsters” has Lana singing over-sexed lines like, “In the land of gods and monsters, I was an angel looking to get ***ed hard,” and moaning “*** yeah baby, give it to me.” Attention grabbing scheme, or artistic freedom, you can decide, but the excellent and dark production of the song makes it the most worthwhile listen of the nine new tracks.
If Paradise proves anything, it is that Del Rey has mastered her form; she has proven time and time again that she can nail these string heavy ballads well, but she has yet to show us what else she is capable of. The album falls hard into the curse of most rereleases in that it is just not necessary, if she had just done three or four more new songs with a little more variety, then this rerelease could have easily been a stand alone record, being on par with, or even succeeding Born To Die. The new tracks are worth a casual listen every now and then, but if you are looking for a truly good album direct your eyes to the first disc, Born To Die, as well as the unreleased Lizzy Grant record, both of which put this release to shame.