Released: June 2014
Whilst not everyone’s cup of tea, or tequila, Lana Del Rey certainly knows how to whip up a musical storm of controversial delight.
As a firm fan of Del Rey’s previous albums, especially the most recently released Born to Die, I enjoyed Ultraviolence. Nearly every song is a story-telling wonder. Drip-filled with Del Rey’s usual melancholy style, the album is filled with appealing sultriness and perfectly mixes old-fashioned class with a 21st century ‘bad girl’ vibe that, although popularly stereotypical, is still fresh and engaging.
Opening rather slowly with Cruel World, Del Rey dives straight into her usual dreamy yet dark world of tragic lovers and a hidden sense of falling – not in love, but simply falling. Listening to Lana Del Rey almost feels as though you’re drowning, but somehow seem to accept, and even, perhaps enjoy it. Whether it’s the echo-filled vocals or hypnotic drum beats lulling you into a false promise of cheerful melodies, the album instantly sets a memorable mood. The self-explanatory second track is the title named Ultraviolence and, once again, it’s etched with meaningful ulteriority. It appears to focus on the intensity and thrill of an unhealthy relationship. The line, “He hit me and it felt like a kiss”, I felt to be rather significant. Del Rey has previously been known for her far from subtle attitudes towards a lifestyle sucked into sex, music and violence. I suspect fans of Born to Die and Ride are most likely to be hooked by this track.
For me, Shades of Cool brought about the largest feelings of controversy. I sincerely hope that Del Rey’s real-life views on drugs are not as naïve. Or her fans too, for that matter. The unknown subject is described as being ‘unfixable’ and ‘love(s) (his) drugs’. Whilst this disappointed me a little, it was far from surprising considering the previous hit, Born to Die, reflected the boldly dynamic yet destructive relationship between two people passionately and recklessly hooked on drugs. However, upon my second listening, I felt a sense of awe, rather than disappointment. After all, Del Rey, I am sure, is far from naïve. In many interviews and promotional events, she appears to be intelligent and supportive of fans too. Her themes cover broad topics in interesting manners, and sure enough, the following handful of songs on Ultraviolent spun my viewpoint around once again.
The Other Woman is by far my favourite track on the album. It thoughtfully focuses on the rare side of the cheating woman’s point of view, rather than the wife/partner. Del Rey soulfully constructs heart-felt lyrics such as the closing line, “the other woman will spend her life alone” in contrast to the other woman’s previous ‘perfect’ appearance. I found this track acted as an eye-opener. When was the last time a singer spun the tale around on a frowned upon topic? It happens, yes, however Del Rey does it so smoothly and subtly that you get swept away with it.
Pretty When I Cry was also an intriguing track. Clearly encouraged by tragedy and broken romance once more, Del Rey seems to suggest the shallow views of relationships in a clear yet also subtle way that creates a dreamy track that deserves to be repeated at least once. Or twice. As for the other tracks, West Coast, Brooklyn Baby and Money Power Glory seem to fade into a familiar pattern and rhythm. They’re, at the least, bearable, but stray from becoming musical masterpieces.
Del Rey has cleverly continued to construct a soulful album with inspiring and thought-provoking lyrics, as well as appealing to old and new fans alike. Perhaps a little variety in rhythm and theme would’ve struck gold easily, however the album is still an enjoyable, easy-listening record.