Release date: Jan. 31, 2012
Record label: Interscope
Official website: http://www.lanadelrey.com/
The buzz: In fewer than six months, Lana Del Rey has rocketed from an obscure singer-songwriter to an overexposed lightning rod with a couple of breakout YouTube hits and a bombed “SNL” appearance already under her belt. The hype-to-hate cycle has accelerated even more than usual; many seem ready to write Del Rey’s epitaph already, charging her with style-over-substance and, much more weirdly, of inauthenticity, as if stage names and vamped-up personas were verboten in the earnest and transparent world of pop music.
The verdict: You’ve likely already reached a verdict on “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans,” the two tracks that generated the buzz tornado in the first place. They both appear here, and their hyper-stylized charms hold up even without the signature flair of her videos. Precious few other tracks make such an indelible impression, in part because Del Rey keeps returning to many of the same basic ingredients, particularly canned swelling strings and banal lyrics about bad boys and bad romance. The melodies are generally breezy and catchy, but it all gets a bit old after a while. Part of the intrigue of “Video Games” is the disaffectedness of the vocal and the insinuation of lurking subtext. Subtext, unfortunately, is not the norm for “Born to Die.” Vocally, Del Rey careens around ambitiously—torch singer, husky sex kitten, helium-voiced Lolita—but doesn’t always stick her landings. Maybe next time?
Did you know? “Lizzy Grant aka Lana Del Rey,” the singer’s debut album from 2010, is set for a reissue later this year, possibly as early as summer.