Album Review: Lana Del Rey, ‘Ultraviolence’

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I first listened to Lana Del Rey in the Spring 2012, about four or five months after her debut Born to Die was released to the public. I remember grabbing the CD for my radio show at Rutgers University and thinking “Eh? Why not?” At the time, Del Rey was just starting to stir the music industry pot; gaining positive and negative criticism from listeners all over the world. I don’t remember exactly which song started it all, but I do remember after I heard it, I went home and listened to the entire album on repeat.

There were many reasons why I was so attracted to Del Rey initially. Her retro vocal stylings coupled with the baroque pop production was just so exquisite, and it fit so well with the glamor persona she was trying to emulate. This whole package really popped in my mind; I felt like I was the only one who felt she should be celebrated and not criticized. That was until her second album Ultraviolence hit the shelves/online streaming services of the world yesterday.

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Like Born to Die, Ultraviolence starts off with a pretty melancholy, slow-paced track. However, unlike the album’s predecessor, “Cruel World,” doesn’t really stand out. I didn’t necessarily expect a powerful opener but I expected Del Rey’s vocals to become much stronger as the album went on. Instead I found myself feeling bored and uninspired by the lack of originality with the tone. If it weren’t for Dan Auerbach’s (The Black Keys) fantastic production and the lyricism, I probably would have turned it off after Track 5. Looking back on it now, I probably should have, because mid-way through, the misery I experienced was similar to that feeling of agony the morning after a long, amazing weekend or vacation. It was just dreadful.

Although Ultraviolence sounds like one big monotonous song, there are a few notable tracks. “West Coast” and “Florida Kilos” were probably the most fun and the only two tracks where Auerbach’s production wasn’t overpowering Del Rey. Auerbach deserves a lot of credit for “Pretty When You Cry” because without his incredible guitar solos, the song would have been pretty lackluster. Actually, the same could be said about the a lot of the production throughout; it was very striking in comparison to Del Rey’s lifeless vocals.

I know I’m being a little harsh, but I can’t help feeling a little gypped with Ultraviolence. I don’t know if I’m more disappointed with Del Rey and Auerbach for not producing musical magic or Del Rey for not making me feel the same emotion I did the first time around. For a while I thought the singer was something special, but I just can’t say officially that now. I do hope that this is just a case of poor experimental judgement and her next album will encompass the same idiosyncrasies I fell in love with on her debut.

Related Articles:

Review: Lana del Rey, ‘Born to Die’ (Jason Stives)

Review: Lady Gaga, ‘ARTPOP’ (Mallory Delchamp)

Review: The Black Keys, ‘Turn Blue’ (Bill Bodkin)

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As the Managing Editor, Lauren Stern is responsible for curating Pop-Break.com’s content. This includes managing the editorial staff, coordinating the content calendar, and assigning publishing dates and deadlines. She graduated Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism and Philosophy. She spends her free time searching for the best gluten-free food in the Tri-State area, playing with her dogs, and reading an insane amount of books. She tweets constantly about pop culture and social issues and hopes you follow her musings @laurenpstern.

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