Album Review: “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey

You either love her or loathe our girl crush, Lana Del Rey, yet she sure knows how to drum up a lot of publicity. From her retro vibe that the fashion industry picked up earlier on (she’s been featured in Complex and now Interview magazines) to mainstream T.V. like her SNL performance, Lana Del Rey knows how to command attention whether you think she has talent or not.

And she does. Although she’s not a belter like Jennifer Hudson or Adele, a gimmick hound like Nicki Minaj or plays too far into femme folk like Alanis Morissette back in 94′, she’s somewhere between Fiona Apple and Kanye West’s latest solo effort, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In fact many of MBDTF themes and moods live on in Del Rey’s much anticipated debut, “Born to Die”, out today. From the melancholy intrusive play of a submissive female in “Video Games” to the grim sound of the album’s title track “Born to Die”, Del Rey is one mopey, dark woman who keeps falling in love with a guy who either ignores her, uses her or causes her great pain (sometimes all at once).

Yet, “Born to Die” is a good first time album, full of definition of who Del Rey appears to be – a moody vintage vixen who just likes to get high and fall for the wrong guy over and over again. Like Fiona Apple before her, Del Rey likes to play vulnerable with her voice and it works on some songs like “Video Games”, “Off to the Races” and Lolita, yet it comes off a little odd on others like “Million Dollar Man” which falls flat.

As much as we get where Del Rey comes from, home girl needs better lyrics. Lyrics like Del Rey’s take on financial excess on National Anthem, “I’m your national anthem God, you’re so handsome\Take me to the Hamptons\ Bugatti Veyron”, reads like a product placement from a rich 13 year old Upper West Sider.

In essence, despite her very awkward stage fright (you gotta do better boo!), occasional shaky lyrics and quirky manipulation of somewhat standard vocal riffs, Del Rey’s debut is impressive for a girl who literally came out of nowhere to sing about drugs, sex and rock and roll with a Nancy Sinatra vibe (her words not ours). And just in that last phrase alone, “her words not ours”, is what really captivates us; the power she has to wield publicity. Like Amy Winehouse before her, Del Rey is a train wreck we can’t stop watching.

Cheers Del Rey to a 2012 filed with crazy drug addicted boyfriends, arrests with Lindsay Lohan and covers of Vogue. You have arrived!

Rating: B+

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