If you cross collaborate the ideas of a naïve girl, internally wounded from her past love experiences and a sexual prowess that thrives off fornication, liquor and hard cash you get Lana Del Rey’s label debut album “Born to Die” (Interscope). After a self shot music video went viral for her song “Video Games,” her debut album was anxiously awaited by an evolving and curious fan base. Though there are a few tracks that lack the original depth and precision of melody and form of “Video Games,” the majority of “Born to Die,” is exquisitely poignant and magical.
What makes “Born to Die,” so breathtaking is Del Rey’s haunting voice and the ability for it to introduce you to a dream world. This album serves as a film noir score written by the enigmatic femme fatale. The album opens with the title track, “Born to Die,” which sets the mysterious and cinematic tone for the tracks to follow. The next tracks, “Off to the Races,” and “Blue Jeans,” both embody Del Rey’s “gangster Nancy Sinatra” vibe. She tells dark, twisted stories with her lyrics of dangerous love narrated by a doe eyed coquette. “Video Games,” the song that launched LDR’s career, has a mystifying, fairy tale feel with a sensational piano melody to accompany her peaceful vocals.
The album jumps to “Diet Mountain Dew,” which is an upbeat hip hop inspired track that feels much more lighthearted and blissful after the heaviness prior. “National Anthem,” a personal favorite, is the albums climax. The track is ambitious and intelligent with primary themes of diamonds of drugs. “Dark Paradise,” “Carmen,” and “Without You,” are each lovely with eerie, haunting vocals and exquisite melodies. “Radio” is a breath of fresh air in a somewhat twisted dream, with lyrics of “Now my life is sweet like cinnamon.” A smoky, vintage club in the 50s with a hopeless starlet pouring her heart out is the picture “Million Dollar Man,” paints as it makes its impression. It is brilliantly composed, bringing the listener to a sense of nostalgia by the close. “Summertime Sadness,” is effervescent and light, though the title and some of the lyrics present it otherwise, such as, “I think I’ll miss you forever, like the stars miss the sun in the morning sky.”
“This is What Makes Us Girls,” is a story of a girl looking melancholically back on youthful indulgence. It’s heavy hearted and luminous, though it slightly straddles the edge of becoming corny. “Lolita,” embraces the main themes of “Born to Die,” and has the same trip-hop feel as “Diet Mountain Dew,” and is one of the more delightful and upbeat tracks of the album. “Born to Die,” closes with “Lucky Ones,” a thrilling example of breathless ecstasy. LDR’s vocals are pleasant and easy on the ears and the lyrics make it difficult not to crack a smile.
Lana Del Rey explicates the meaning of truth. Her painfully honest outlook on love and life are apparent in her voice and lyrical themes in “Born to Die.” The ability for Del Rey to glide from rich, low-toned hauteur to elevated bliss makes the delivery of her debut album one to converse about. It is one of the most distinctive albums of 2012; bringing a new meaning to the pop music scene. Her talent is undoubtedly evident in each song on her debut, and it will be intriguing to witness where she will go next.
The album is not perfect; not every track is to die for, some stand out more than others. However, the majority of the songs are haunting, leaving you breathless and craving more. “Born to Die,” is a cinematic soundtrack, classic and dreamy with an old school vibe. It is filled with lyrical narratives concerning rebellious teenage vagabonds, beauty queens, broken hearts, exotic escapades, youthful blues, drugs, booze, and hopeless romance. Lana Del Rey embodies the extraordinary power that a pop song can encompass. Her soulful voice on “Born to Die,” is perfect to pair with a quiet autumn day and a glass of vintage bourbon.