Review Summary: you ungrateful fucks
Lana del Rey is smarter than you.
It's not just the references, or the fact she's more literate or plugged-in; it's the whole spectacular edifice. The image is everything, substance nothing. Do any among you remember a time when Lana did not exist" No. Perhaps a hazy recollection of the first half of 2011, before she invented nostalgia in super-saturated technicolor.
hit like a bolt from the pale blue beyond, its montage accompaniment slipping past a cellophane gift-wrap of absolute surrender. Piano chords pulse while strings strain heavenward and collapse, punctuated with the occasional shimmer of a harp. "Hold me in your big arms / Drunk and I am seeing stars / This is all I think of." Mindless and vacant, there is only oblivion in her eyes.
continued in much the same vein. "You so fresh to death and sick as ca-cancer." Staff writer Channing Freeman errs gravely when he asserts that lyrically the album is a mess — do not think this impudence went unnoticed. Everything is of a piece, down to the last cliché: James Dean, punk rock, hip-hop, gangsta, chasing paper. All that beautiful kitsch Americana set to a Chris Isaak love ballad.
Indeed, as Lana blithely coos a few tracks later on National Anthem
: "Money is the reason / We exist / Everybody knows it, it's a fact / Kiss-kiss." For our nihilist nymphet, rich and powerful men are merely means to an end: "God you're so handsome / Um, do you think you'll buy me lots of diamonds"" A$AP Rocky was the real first black president, not that mediocre pretender Obama.
Lana basks in her own objectification, dully indifferent to the ambient materialism of the world. Her pussy tastes like Pepsi-Cola, as we learned from Paradise Edition
the following year. She has a taste for aging playboys and biker daddies who get her from Point A to Point B; she makes no excuses for herself and does not expect anyone's sympathy.
Off to the Races
channels Nabokov, again nodding at all the bygone glories of a previous age. Chateau Marmont, Cipriani's basement, lilac fumes and cases of Bacardi chasers. One hears the far-off noise of an outdoor pool scene. This is reprised once again in Lolita
, on the next album, in concept if not in sound. Ever Lynchian, with cinematic swells and sudden rushes of sound.
and Born to Die
seem cut from this same cloth. At least in its more lachrymose original, the former swoons toward self-destruction. Later Cedric Gervais would remix it and make a chart-topping banger, but the vinyl version features bells from an old-time Hollywood Western ringing out over the roll of drums. Born to Die
, the title track, is another throwback anthem with Lana cast in the role of femme fatale
Yet it is in Dark Paradise
that Born to Die
reaches its sinister apotheosis. "Every time I close my eyes / It's like a dark paradise / No one compares to you." There it all is, the faux-tragic mask of simulated devotion and put-on naïveté. Lana wears her whole schtick like cheap makeup, a lipstick smear across the infinite. Reveries of the American Nightmare. Another reviewer summarized it well: "Bougie dreams / Silent screams."
Much has been made of Lana's presumptive inauthenticity. Or at least much was made of it at the time, around when the album was released. It's all fake, of course, which is what makes it real (hence "blurring the lines between real and the fake"). Her entire persona is carefully calculated, even curated. Why would it ever be any different"