Born to Die 3/5 In case you haven’t been following the past six months of rabid Del Rey dissection, the primary points of interest have been: are her lips fake? Was she much cop under her real name, Lizzy Grant? This has been followed by endless debates about authenticity, with each televised performance posted on YouTube inspiring pages of commentary reaching fever pitch after a recent Saturday Night Live appearance. ‘Career killer!’ crowed her critics. Meanwhile, a leaked email from an NBC news anchor lambasted it as ‘one of the worst outings in SNL history’.
Certainly her performance was off-key and painfully awkward, but having seen her in the flesh we can confirm that Lana del Rey can sing. She’s actually quite captivating and her confidence will surely grow. Just give the girl a chance.
Thankfully this debut has some excellent cuts beyond the now-familiar femme fatale torch tunes ‘Video Games’, ‘Born to Die’ and ‘Blue Jeans’. Backed by trip-hoppy beats, ‘Off to the Races’, ‘National Anthem’ and ‘Diet Mountain Dew’ up the ante; her melodies are mellifluous, her pacing surprising and nimble.
Unfortunately, the compositions are let down by overcooked production: songs are slathered in strings and punctuated by samples. Equally, her preoccupation with doomed affairs wears thin over 12 tracks. Her imagery flutters with dresses donned and disrobed. Only ‘National Anthem’ and the standout ‘Radio’ suggest she’s got any backbone at all. Everywhere else she’s a weak-kneed waif, helplessly beholden to a man, even as he leaves her sobbing in the dust. Del Rey’s debut definitely needs a re-edit, but she’s still a promising prospect. Haters keep hating; we’re on Team Lana.