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Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Jul 23rd, 2014

Lana Del Rey: Ultraviolence

lana del rey ultraLana Del Rey
Ultraviolence
(Interscope)

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Ultraviolence is Lana Del Rey’s highly-anticipated sophomore release. The vintage, perpetually-miserable pop star is recognized for her sad-girl image and lyrics, and stands¬†completely¬†alone in her sound; she doesn’t even make pop music, but nears rock and chillwave without ever quite realizing either.

Her debut, Born To Die, was fairly varied in sound from track to track, and lyrically explored the character of Lana Del Ray from multiple angles. Ultraviolence takes a much more focused approach as Del Ray explores her persona from one singular angle, and embellishes upon the concept of a mourning lover for the full hour of the album.

Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys produced most of the record, and it leads off with the listener thinking that this pair may have created something really great. The first few tracks are lush, with swelling orchestration and twangy guitars behind¬†atmospherically¬†hollow vocals, while the lyrics spin tales of broken dreams, lost love, and addictions. But, then, “Brooklyn Baby” plays, and all hope for the remainder of¬†the¬†album is lost. Absurd¬†imagery¬†and far less interesting arrangements prevail, and an album that had begun as promising has turned into thoroughly disappointing.

A recurring theme of abusive partners and submissive images of¬†women¬†emerge¬†throughout¬†the record, masked in various pop culture and literary references. In the title track, which¬†is¬†a nod to the brutal assaults in A Clockwork Orange in and of itself, Del Ray proclaims, “he hit me and it felt like a kiss,” calling upon The Crystals’ song produced by Phil Spector in the early 1960s. Additionally, multiple acknowledgements for longing to appear as a Lolita figure are made. All of these claims are fairly unsettling and off-putting to listen to.

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Lana Del Rey: Ultraviolence