I’m absolutely convinced that the first time I heard about this lady, I must have thought that this might be one of the oddest names I remember. Also the cover art seems like taken straight out of some late 60s magazine or family portrait long forgotten in someone’s attic. But the truth is that the last thing in my mind was curiosity about how this album would actually sound, and if all of the reviews and talk about it are actually justified.
I was completely unaware of the incredible experience that was awaiting for me here. I was honestly just waiting to find some hipster girl pretending to be an artist using and indie image to sell some records and then fell into darkness and mystery after the dust settles down. Now I’m sure that this is just the first step in a very productive career that probably won’t reach heights of mega-stardom, but it certainly won’t go unnoticed and will have an avid number of listeners that will stay loyal for as long as she might feel like releasing more albums. Wishful thinking on my part, I know, but there are lots of potential here, you can tell right from minute one.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons why this album sounds this amazing though, I’ve been puzzled over a few weeks trying to isolate the single element that makes this stand from the crowd. I failed so far to do so, and I’m starting to suspect that there isn’t a single element that can be blamed for making this album so enjoyable, it must be the result of several variables that are not yet clear in my mind, but they sure work great together.
I have to confess though, sometimes I have a hard time deciding how exactly this album should be categorized. Sometimes it feels just like your regular vanilla pop album that comes with a couple good songs, and some other times it jumps into a whole new category and it feels like the most amazing pop album you’ve heard in years. And that’s probably one of the few complains I have about Born To Die, consistency. It is a pretty darn good album, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t always feel the same, at least for me.
Another bizarre thing about this album is the fact that Del Rey is admittedly an Eminem fan, and one or two songs here sound almost like some of Eminem’s songs of a few years back. Those moments feel just a little bit out of place here, they don’t blend that easily with the rest of the album, and while it doesn’t really diminish the value of this album, it provides us with some confusion and maybe some blank stares in the middle of an otherwise interesting experience.
However, there’s one thing that will overpower any number of flaws you want to find in this album, and that is the theatrical, almost cinematic feeling that Del Rey’s voice communicates, that moment of awe when her voice rises and plays with the lyrics in a way I haven’t been able to identify in someone else. You can’t explain that, you just have to sit there and let it flow through your mind, and yes, maybe the lyrics are far from being mind blowing, but they do have something going on for them and you end up just being indulgent about it.
Is that reason enough to give this album the thumbs up? Yes, it definitely is. We can only hope that this will be explored in subsequent releases by Del Rey, as that is the reason many of us are here in the first place, and while this isn’t a perfect album, for being a debut album it scores surprisingly high in my book. I want more of that cinematic voice, I want more of that somewhat indifferent attitude while delivering warm performances that slip through songs that act just as vehicles for her voice.
Born To Die might not be the new pop revolution, but it certainly brings some fresh elements and is a very interesting proposal for those usually unwilling to listen to the typical pop stereotype. This is a pop album with an indie approach, not the other way around.
(The following video is not mine, as Youtube penalizes any account uploading videos belonging to Universal Music Group… Sorry about that guys, serves just to show that corporate music has its own agenda, and that ironically prevents people from actually listening their music.)