Lana Del Rey – “Ultraviolence”
It’s fair to say that Lana Del Rey is very much one of the hippest stars in the music world at the moment. This new album has already gone to number one on I tunes in 80 countries, including the UK and the US. As if commercial success is not enough, the album has the added coolness of being produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. That ‘coolness’ factor is also bumped now, of course, by featuring in The Soul of a Clown!! It is pretty rare we actually cover a number one pop artist, but there is something decidedly interesting and unique about Lana Del Rey which makes her a bit special.
This album opens in a typically melancholy and pensive tone with “Cruel World”. The lyric “with my little party dress on, everyone knows I’m the best of crazy”, shows the juxtaposition that Lana Del Rey exemplifies. Songs like this and “Sad Girl” are moody, frighteningly intense songs and totally compelling.
The title track, “Ultraviolence” keeps the claustrophobic feel going, until a sweeter sounding tone to the voice is introduced. The whole song has an epic feel and a real sense of grandeur. A similar style is adopted on “Brooklyn Baby”, with its mixing of smoky vocals in the verse and the lighter tone used in the chorus. The song “Shades of Cool” almost has a Bond movie theme sound to it, but we are talking moody and mean Daniel Craig Bond rather than Roger Moore!!
There’s still room for some ‘pop’ on the album, with “West Coast” being a great modern pop song, which, somewhat bizarrely, is almost like Kate Bush interpreting some sort of edgy, urban song. In contrast, “Pretty When You Cry” is a real tear jerker, which you can see will appeal to a whole host of young fans who are looking for an outlet for their adolescent pains and worries. That’s not to trivialise it though, every generation needs a source of musical support in their time of need.
“Money Power Glory” still keeps that downbeat tone, but has an even wider sense of power to it and leads neatly in to “Fucked My Way Up”. This track sees a sense of anger and retribution added to the mix, with its soft sound contrasting with the acidic content of the lyrics. The final track on the album, “The Other Woman”, is like a modern equivalent of an old country song. That is until it builds in to another epic and heartfelt song, with an almost operatic quality to the vocals.
Given her commercial sales and social impact, it is no wonder that people are beginning to regard Lana Del Rey as a potential voice of a generation. It would certainly be interesting to know how that tag would sit with Lana herself. The good thing is that she is an artist that really has something to say, and the willingness to express her thoughts and feelings in the stark lyrics is to be admired. The interesting thing will be to see how she continues to develop, and if she can maintain the quality and ensure the longevity of her influence.