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born to dieReleased: 2012

Described as a ‘pop femme fatale’, Lana Del Rey has gained equal amounts of praise and criticism in the short amount of time she’s been on the musical radar. Admired for her old Hollywood image and condemned for her apparent dull and dreary personality, her persona often gains more attention than her music.

Much like herself, her songs split the critics and it would seem she is one of those artists you either love or hate. With such a distinctive sound her music could never be described as middle of the road and was ultimately never going to be everyone’s cup of tea. For me Lana Del Rey is Earl Grey. Not to be drunk all through the day, but to be enjoyed in small quantities, at select times.

Born To Die is the debut album by Del Rey and is remarkably unique. An orchestral backing that is evocative of something from another era surrounds her breathy and sultry vocals. With references to 50s and 60s pop culture, the album successfully manages to stir a genuine feeling of nostalgia, whilst remaining completely current at the same time.

It features the highly popular, melodious hits Blue Jeans and Video Games, which were songs I was familiar with long before I’d heard of Del Rey. As usually happens, these songs were released first and remain two of the best on the album; I doubt many people would dispute this. However the single Born To Die is, in my opinion, over-rated. There are much more alluring songs on the album – namely the ethereal Lucky Ones and the slightly more upbeat Diet Mountain Dew.

There’s a resonating sense of tragedy in almost every song, a gloomy undertone that’s never far from the surface; yet I find the retro, downhearted sound strangely magnetic.

This melancholy, indie-pop album is definitely not perfect; in fact there are a good number of songs that are very forgettable. However, Lana Del Rey’s talent in undeniable and even if it’s not your style of music it should be praised for its distinctiveness. For me it’s the highly cinematic quality that is so hypnotic. It’s safe to say that most of the songs on Born to Die would make truly great film soundtracks.

Admittedly I couldn’t listen to the entire album in one sitting for fear that I may fall into a Del Rey induced coma, but in small doses the songs on Born to Die are an atmospheric and emotive pleasure.

★★★

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