By Manal Sheikh
Lana Del Rey’s debut release was anticipated for months. Media hype and significant YouTube attention generated an enormous buildup for a singer with only a few songs to her name. Luckily for Lana, though — and to the delight of her fans — Born to Die does not disappoint.
With haunting melodies throughout, Del Rey’s low and sultry voice is presented with the atmosphere of an old-school 1920s speakeasy combined with a distinctive pop element. Songs like “Carmen,” “Lucky Ones,” and “Million Dollar Man” show why she calls herself the “gangsta Nancy Sinatra.”
Her roots do not only sprout from an age gone by — Del Rey’s influences are a combination of modern pop and loosely woven hip hop. Her contemporaneity is solidified when she gives a nod to the Occupy movement in “National Anthem,” describing a superficial relationship with a wealthy man. Del Rey’s lyrical obsession with the tarnished glamour of limelight, camera, money and tragic love is oft repeated throughout the album.
One of the album’s gems is a re-release of her most well-known song, “Video Games.” Evocative and tender, the song portrays a lacklustre yet relatable relationship with appropriately gutted emotion uncommon to most pop stars. Its chorus — a slow, mournful dirge — is given a wrenching poignancy by her exceptional voice.
Born to Die isn’t all perfect harmonies and dark glamour, however. There are a few songs, with “Blue Jeans” being the most notable, that ruin the melodramatic melancholy Del Rey is aiming for — they have a tone more befitting a Lifetime TV rerun.
Thankfully, subpar songs are outnumbered and overwhelmed by their more dazzling counterparts, making Born to Die worth a listen.