Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Music Notes: Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die" Hits the Stores & the Critics Weigh In

Lana Del Rey's full-length is out; see below for links to reviews.
Lana Del Rey's debut album "Born To Die"was released today, and finally everyone has more than just a few songs and her painful SNL performances by which to judge her. The album will have attracted plenty of detractors no matter what it sounded like, but there are some critics and journalists that are giving "Born to Die" a fair hearing.

Among those giving "Born to Die" reviews that focus on the music rather than the hysteria surrounding LDR: The New Yorker (by Sasha Frere-Jones), Spin, Pitchfork, and the L.A. Times. Many of the reviews I've seen mention how the lyrics seem to portray a woman who's submissive and/or eager to please, and preoccupied with fame and material pleasures, which is all part of the reason for the controversy surrounding Del Rey.

Another common theme is that the Del Rey persona can vary widely from song to song and seem inconsistent, as well as devoid of real emotion. "There is little wisdom in 'Born to Die,' but more than enough pleasure," Frere-Jones writes, ultimately concluding that "the character of Del Rey, authentic or not, is so inconsistent that she fades from view, into her own photo spread."And Lindsay Zoladz writes in Pitchfork, "The ultimate disappointment of "Born To Die"... is how out of touch it feels not just with the world around it, but with the simple business of human emotion."

All of the reviews I've seen mention the lyrics, but Rob Harvilla's Spin review singles out of number of them as "Objectively Ridiculous Lyrics on this Album," including "Everything I want I have / Money, notoriety, and rivieras," which Del Rey uses in the bio section of her Twitter profile.

In a blog post entitled "The Last Thing I've Ever Write About Lana Del Rey," ex-Titus Andronicus member and feminist Amy Klein examines the former Lizzy Grant's music and persona in terms of the vision of women that society wants. "The problem is that when it comes to women, we seem to want a character and not the truth, " Klein writes. "We want Lana Del Rey, not Lizzy Grant."

Like most people in the world, I haven't yet heard "Born to Die," although retailers are making it a low-risk proposition. In the U.S., iTunes is selling the album download for $7.99, and Amazon.com is selling the "Born To Die" download for $5.99and the CD for $7.99(for today only, it seems). [NOTE: Prices are still in effect as of the night of Feb. 2nd]. "Born To Die" is on Spotify, if you have an account there.

Now that the full-length album is out, Lana Del Rey will no doubt continue to stir controversy. It will be interesting to see if she can now develop a confident stage performance that will captivate concertgoers more than "Born To Die"has the critics.

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