Review Summary: Just ride.
This year was a busy one for Lana Del Rey. The diva has seen enormous success since her hit “Video Games” sprouted wings in late 2011 and the accompanying debut album Born to Die
only served to catapult her further into stardom. Her reception was admittedly quite mixed, but she undoubtedly left her mark and her newest EP Paradise
has ensured she will not be forgotten by the time the year is up. Born to Die
had its flaws and was a bit “top-heavy” and inconsistent if anything. Paradise
on the other hand feels like a slicker and tighter version of her previous LP, accomplishing more with less.
The woman has proven to us all by now she does not shy away from theatricality. Look no further than the lead single “Ride” with its accompanying 10-minute music video; huge
in every aspect of the word. It features Lana painfully discussing a longing to belong somewhere, the idea of truly being “free”, and naturally it comes complete with a dazzling shot of her all wrapped in the loving embrace of the American flag. It’s a great introduction to what listener’s will hear from Paradise
– signature Lana Del Rey with a more personal touch this time around. We delve a little deeper into the mystery of Lizzy Grant. Why does she fall for such rougher and older men she doesn’t understand? Why does she display such an unwavering patriotism towards her home country?
Did these questions absolutely need to be answered? Not at all. But when the music is this captivating it’s easy to be swept up in the tortured character she portrays for herself. Her seductive croons and whispers amidst those soaring violins and piano create a mesmerizing atmosphere. It’s not for everyone, as critics have shown. Her lyrics are her most obvious flaw and are at times questionable, the opening line of “Cola” being a glaring example. It’s always kept her from truly reaching levels of utter brilliance. The good news is that those issues are kept to a minimum on here and this more compact album has a way higher ratio of hits to misses.
is both touching and deliciously naughty, two traits that Lana just seems to know how to balance perfectly. She can make your pants tight one moment with songs like “Cola” and “Body Electric”, then makes your heart swell the next moment with a song like “Bel Air”. And just for good measure, she’ll deliver a song that has undertones of both sexual lust and depression all at once as on “Gods & Monsters”. In a way, she has pulled a “Lady GaGa” here, releasing an average debut and following it up with a shockingly more personal and powerful B-side that surpasses Born to Die
in almost every way. It’s not perfect, but shows definite progress and goes down like warm chocolate pudding…with whipped cream and a sweet little cherry on top of course.