Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Album review: LANA DEL REY - Ultraviolence

Highlights: West Coast, Power Money Glory


Ever since I saw the cheap Burgess quote, I was determined to hate this album. Or maybe ‘hate’ is the wrong word, because there’s nothing to hate about Lana Del Rey. She is lovely, pretty, stylish, ‘different’, she has this precious image of a tragically depressed celebrity. No, hating her would be positively reactionary. Rather, I was prepared to be underwhelmed, swept away by waves of boredom masquerading as class.

And for God’s sake – it’s like she wasn’t even trying.

Ultraviolence is like a gigantic sad marshmallow smeared all over your face over the whole duration of this album. Which, and this might be an issue, is frankly overlong. The opener “Cruel World” drags forever, and the mood-setting excuse is weak. This album has the same mood painstakingly sustained for 52 monotonous, narcoleptic minutes. Had she started with the title track, my six would have a much healthier look.

Not that “West Coast” (or “Wesht Coasht”, if we get into her voluptuous phonetics) isn’t a classic. It is this album’s “Video Games”, only this time the novelty effect gives way to clever songwriting. The way she breaks down the pacing halfway through is absolutely majestic (if thoroughly calculated) and leaves me wondering if she really is as good as they say. Elsewhere, it’s mostly just mannerisms. “Sad Girl” living in a “Cruel World”. Presentation too important to consider the actual content. Some choruses, however, do impress and there’s no question that “Power Money Glory” (I bet you can guess the lyrics of that one) can melt any number of cynical hearts.

But mostly it’s just kids, of course. Girls who think she is some glamorous, lonesome queen. Boys who get a hard-on every time she says the word ‘fuck’. It’s really quite priceless, the whole thing, even if occasionally it becomes grating – her taking herself so bloody seriously. But I guess pop stars can be forgiven: sincerity is arbitrary. Talent, though, can’t be synthesized. Not even with that pout. 

In the meantime – brilliant background music.

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