Lana Grows Up on Ultraviolence

After a polarizing start to her career, one that seemed mostly attached to presenting a certain image, Lana Del Rey comes back with Ultraviolence, a moody but subtle album filled with her usual summertime lament from track one to eleven. Where Del Rey’s hits were previously focused on her lower register (“Video Games“, “Born to Die“) Ultraviolence is better designed for her voice. It’s a smartly crafted album that takes a more thoughtful approach to songwriting than Born to Die (2012). There are shades of Björk, Florence Welch, and Ellie Goulding throughout Ultraviolence, an area of both musical oddity and mainstream pop that suits Del Rey perfectly.

Ultraviolence immediately departs from her pop tendencies with opener “Cruel World“, a trippy, spacey track clocking in at almost seven minutes. It’s got a surprising amount of old-school rock laced throughout. A standout on the album is “West Coast“, by far. It shifts between muted summer pop and a mellow, lamenting chorus with an entirely different beat and tone. Both sides are excellent, but the combination and switch between the two is delightful. “Pretty When You Cry” has a lot of the attitude of The Eagles‘ “Hotel California“, the same late afternoon jazzy California spirit. A little off-color matched with significant vocal warbling, but it works nicely.

Ultraviolence is a big step up for Del Rey. It takes the tone she carefully crafted with her debut work and tweaks it just enough to make it mature. None of these tracks is a pop sensation like “Summertime Sadness“, but the quality of the work is more thoughtful. Both the melodic variety and backing instrumentals are more fleshed out. The sound isn’t just filling space, it’s doing a lot of the work that the backing in her previous work never did. For naysayers, Ultraviolence deserves a chance. It’s still Lana, but it’s a lot less self-conscious and much more high quality.

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  1. Pingback: Best of the B Sides: “Pretty When You Cry” - Rock On Philly

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