Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Grant dropped her debut LP 'Born to Die' today to the anticipation and criticism of many. A release surrounded by waves of controversy and built at its core around one stunning number, 'Born to Die' has had me hopping from foot to foot for a while now. I have been an avid fan, ever since the sublime 'Video Games' fell into my line of sight. That numbers vintage sensibility hit a nerve with everybody, the melody and chord progression flying straight and true in a manner so incredibly touching and profound it shot Lana into a truly unanticipated limelight. 'Video Games' mused with human articulation the surreal and delicate nature of fame, soaring instrumentation falling into an ear-grabbingly despondent groove that explored something that hadn't really been explored before. Lana Del Rey, an artist who had previously failed under the name Lizzy Grant, had recorded something of a modern classic, and unfortunately from this emerges her ultimately disappointing downfall!
'Born to Die' feels forced. It seems to have been pushed out before the fiery hype that surrounds Lana died down to an unprofitable smoulder, resulting in an LP that lacks any refinement, depth or emotional substance. It tries hard and succeeds in part, but overall this doesn't work at all. The strings on every song bore, reducing the few good lyrics to an over-produced and cliche set of words, void of meaning and unreflective of the DIY ethos emulated by 'Video Games' and its video accompaniment. Lyrically Lana takes boring and unimaginative themes and does nothing with them. Sex, bad girls, drugs? You can find all of these and more thrown onto 'Born to Die'. My previous praise for Lana faltered like the miserable face on her cover. She does a few nice things with baroque pop musically which I admire, but everything else flows through one ear and out the other, lacking personality interesting enough to stick. Awkwardly it aims, for vain and fickle and limp radio coverage!
Take one song from 'Born to Die' and you've heard them all. The need to be the subject of male desire leads to an almost unbearable and sexist aesthetic I cringe at hearing. The fourth track 'Diet Mountain Dew' fails to ignite any of the upbeat catchiness it tries to, with the following number 'Million Dollar Man' dragging out like the threads of a vintage jumper. The vocals on every number here are technically stunning, save her attempt at rapping. I just fail to connect with them, which is incredibly frustrating. 'National Anthem's refrain and truly shocking lines: "Money is the reason we exist / Everybody knows that it's a fact / Kiss kiss" aren't worthy of mention, unsurprisingly sad and unable to crack anything other than an ugly, fake smile. The old-fashioned and unbelievable line of 'This is What Makes us Girls' goes "This is what makes us girls/ We don't stick together 'cause we put our love first", which immediately puts me off. Goofy singing goes on to tell women everywhere to put up with the absence of love: "Don't cry about it"! After 'Video Games' I'm wondering at which point it all went wrong. It's empty, arrogant and ostentatious, and I am just not a fan!
People criticised Lana Del Rey, branding her as fake and manufactured and disgustingly opulent. I stood by and defended her every effort, and indeed the first four tracks here do work to a degree. Put them amongst songs that offend, and spout the most boring, cliche phrases imaginable however, and even those lose their shine. Over-produced and absent any emotional bond between artist and audience, I feel innately disappointed with 'Born to Die'. For all of its swooning and crooning, the LP is just an obnoxiously fabricated musical lie. Stream 'Video Games' down below and then grab the full album via Amazon over here.