Occasionally, Amazon will run these really great sales on MP3 albums, which I usually don't get, but sometimes it's just too tempting to pass up.
So I was checking my updates from them tonight and I had five bucks left from a bookstore trip, and Lana Del Rey's "Born To Die" pops up under the lovely price of three dollars, so I gave it a go.
Out of the 12 tracks on the album, only about five of them are worth even listening to. And most of those were on the short EP that was released before the album.
The fact of the matter is that the lyrical tone, pace, and instrumentation of the album is consistently the same except for two songs. It's slow, sad, swirling, lush music put to the syrupy, 60's inspired "vocals' of Miss Del Rey. If that description makes you a bit sleepy, the actual album will be more effective than a sleep pill for you.
I'm not saying that it's all horrible and awful and nobody should be allowed to listen, it's just very blah and boring. Lana tries for scandalous beats and an old fashioned sense of sensuality, but hits the "I'm trying really hard to be hipster" level. It's almost sad really, because there are some genuine moments on the album.
For example, the song that launched her fame, Video Games is easily the best song on the album. It sounds like what everything on this album wants to be, but isn't. There is a sense of sweet sadness and the slow, moving, instrumentation is all really soothing.
One of the other highlights is Diet Mountain Dew. Whereas the early demo was slow and dreamy, this one is the only track on Born To Die where the speed of the song actually speeds up and feels alive.
I also liked Blue Jeans, Summertime Sadness, and the title Track, because while Lana's sound is distinct and easily recognizable, it's also very boring after 12 tracks. These 5 tracks are the best taste of the album you will get.
The other 7 tracks are disappointing to say in the least. Off To The Races and Carmen are especially abysmal. Something happened during the writing of Born To Die, and it seems like all the creative power that may or may not have been Lana Del Rey lost steam and really really wanted to write about something else instead of the melancholy love story that is all Born To Die seems to talk about. Literally three quarters of the lyrical content can be summed up in a bit of the chorus from Blue Jeans: "I will love you 'til the end of time/I would wait a million years/Promise you'll remember that you're mine/Baby, can you sit through the tears?
I myself could not sit through said tears. While I will admit that my life is not sunshine and rainbows, this album is so slow and depressing towards the end that it's hard to keep from falling asleep or doing laundry while listening.
It feels like Miss Del Rey was trying to create a portrait of a corrupted world where hot guys with tattoos always leave like you expected them to stay, trips to The Hamptons aren't that expensive, and maybe material success isn't all you'd hoped it would be. ALL of the album tone can be summed up in more lyrics, this time from the aptly titled National Anthem: "Money is the anthem of success/Now before we go out, kiss kiss/....or /God, you're so handsome/take me to the Hamptons.
I can honestly say that if this album had been more varied in it's lyrical content and instrumentaion, I would've liked it better. Lana's voice is smooth and her image is interesting, but it becomes so old and stale and boring after the first five songs that it's easy to give up on.
Say what you will about Born To Die, but there are some shining moments. They're just outdone by all the bland tracks that follow.