Wednesday 14 November 2012

Lana Del Rey - Born To Die - The Paradise Edition

This time last year, Lana Del Rey was in her prime.  Video Games was doing the rounds on the internet, hailed by many as a masterpiece, with Del Rey marked as a future star.  

Fast forward to January 2012 and the much anticipated release of her debut album 'Born To Die'.  The response was mixed, with some berating it for its string of copycat songs, whilst others praised it for its unique sound (you can read The Gizzle's verdict here).  At the least, the album failed to live up to the monumental hype and, as we near the year's end, Del Rey has become something of a music industry joke - a case study in the problems of over-hype.

Fast forward to present day and Del Rey's release of 'The Paradise Edition' which features a second disc of eight new tracks.  But does it right the wrongs of the initial release?  What do these new tracks add, if anything?

What's most significant about these new tracks is the continued absurdity of her lyrics.  Her style may hearken back to Hollywood glamour, but there are more clichéd American references in these bonus tracks than in the bombastic National Anthem.  The title of American alone is enough, without mentioning "Springsteen is king" in an attempt to seem cool.  Then there's Body Electric which opens with the line "Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn's my mother, Jesus is my bestest friend", undoubtedly the three cornerstones of American culture.  It all hits new extremes with Cola, though, remarkable only for the lyric "My pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola, my eyes are wide like cherry pie".  Pussy product-placement galore.  Listening to these lyrics, it's hard not to believe Del Rey is becoming a parody of herself.  Her cover of Blue Velvet is in many ways perfectly suited, both vocally and in the image of a starlet hiding a troubled past, but it's hard to stomach when it's so acutely manufactured.

Cola also sounds like a copy of Summertime Sadness, which, let's face it, sounds like Video Games.  'Born To Die' proved that Del Rey's first hit wasn't so much a one-hit-wonder but a template to mould the rest of the album.  'The Paradise Edition' continues the trend, offering nothing musically that we haven't heard before - lush strings, hip-hop beats and Del Rey's breathy drawl.  Latest single Ride is the major highlight and could easily have been included in the original album.  Which begs the question: are these bonus tracks offcuts from the original release, or newly penned?  If the latter, they are undoubtedly an unnecessary cash-in that ultimately add little to the album as a whole.  Even so, fans will lap up the chance to hear more of her alluring melancholia.

Does this hint at the direction of future material?  If so, we're in for another disappointment as Del Rey desperately needs to break her own mould and offer more variety.  'Born To Die' remains one of this year's major releases and includes some beautifully sad lamentations, but the new tracks only tarnish her already fading image.  


Gizzle's Choice:
* Ride
* Video Games
* Born To Die

Listen: 'The Paradise Edition' is available now.