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Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.75
Musicianship 7.75
Lyrics 7.75
Production 7.75
Creativity 7.75
Lasting Value 7.75
Reviewer Tilt 7.75
Final Verdict: 78%
Member Ratings
Vocals 4.5
Musicianship 4.28
Lyrics 4.27
Production 4.45
Creativity 4.53
Lasting Value 3.84
Reviewer Tilt 4.63
Average: 44%

Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

Reviewed by: Jake Jenkins (06/21/14)
Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
Record Label: Interscope
Release Date: June 17, 2014


When Lana Del Rey released her last album back in 2012, she was met with the kind of critical backlash no one really expected coming off of the strength of “Video Games.” While Born To Die didn't exactly fare well with the critics, her ever expanding fan base assured that her relevancy wouldn't die out before she could fade into obscurity like countless other major label failures. The thing is though, Born To Die wasn't a failure. The record managed to score a couple of decently performing singles following “Video Games,” and it even led to her contributing to the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby with an original track. Despite the critical reception, Born To Die tended to resonate with many, even if its flaws were easy to point out. Most of the tracks still pointed to something greater, though, and even those let down with the release felt there was still some potential to be tapped into. With the follow up to Born To Die, Ultraviolence, Lizzy Grant's Lana Del Rey has undoubtedly tapped into a great deal of that potential.

The story surrounding Lana Del Rey has always been met with raised eyebrows from many individuals, mainly due to questions of authenticity. It should come as no secret that Lana Del Rey is basically a character concocted by Lizzy Grant, and to some it's an issue since her career was seemingly handed to her by her father's status. Indeed, the money played a large role, but Lana Del Rey's vocal talents can't be denied, and “Video Games” didn't blow up by accident. So if you're one who has no reservations about her back story (as you shouldn't), investing yourself in Lana Del Rey is an easy task. If you're one who can't buy into it, Ultraviolence will do nothing to change your mind.

The narrative we found on Born To Die is largely kept the same: the women in Lana's songs fall for awful, despicable men that treat them horribly. For some, this is hard to reconcile with. Wouldn't it be better if she portrayed her women as something more than pitiful and alone? Sure, but Ultraviolence is hardly about strength or comfort in independence, it's about despondence and depression, and Lana Del Rey has never been one to shy away from the ugly sides of relationships. Some of her lines come across as crass and careless, specifically something like “he hit me and it felt like a kiss” from the title track, but moments like these only highlight the harsh, ugly world she inhabits. There's little in the way of happiness or hopefulness, and instead the record is a near hour long performance of someone slowly falling into a dark space as it becomes increasingly harder to find a way out.

This may not sound too appealing on paper, and it's true that Ultraviolence can overwhelm you with its sadness, but thanks to The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who produced much of the record, the music backing up Lana Del Rey makes the emotions hit much harder than they would with the words alone. The hip-hop undertones present on Born To Die are eschewed in favor of shimmering guitars and live drum kits drenched in reverb. There's still the orchestral swells found on the previous album, but here they're pushed to the background for the most part, aside from late album stunner “Old Money,” which coincidentally wasn't produced by Auerbach. The album really shines when he's in charge of things, though, as on the massive album opener “Cruel World” where Del Rey's story is blown up to big screen proportions with peaks and valleys that build and swell for 6 minutes, introducing us to the main themes of the record. Auerbach gives her vocals the perfect touch of space, with the reverb eliciting the image of Lana singing her heart out to an empty arena, with no one around to comfort her but her own thoughts.

While the record's cold and distant tone is kept consistent throughout, there are a few moments of deviation from the formula. The aptly titled “West Coast” is a sun soaked ballad that elicits imagery from the songs titular location and comes complete with a G-funk synthesizer to close things out. There's also “Brooklyn Baby,” which either glorifies or pokes fun at trendy New York culture (the lines is blurry as it often is in Lana Del Rey's songs). The character for once sounds confident and content (“Yeah my boyfriend's pretty cool/But he's not as cool as me”). On the daring “Fucked My Way Up To The Top,” Lana confronts the notion of women only reaching their status by sleeping with men by completely owning it and flipping it on it's head: “I fucked my way up to the top/This is my show.” It's another one of those moments where you can't tell if she's being tongue-in-cheek or not, which sort of becomes the point. Ultraviolence explores the areas between reality and fiction, bending the line between them until you're not sure which is which.

All of this makes for an interesting listen, even if the record can tend to drag on a little bit toward the end. The bonus tracks are nice enough for the most part, but they tend to drag the record down even more; the standard edition has all of the drama and romance you could possibly want from Lana Del Rey without going too far overboard. Ultraviolence marks a drastic improvement from an already good enough artist, and while the lyrical changes are nearly nonexistent, the music and songwriting are leaps and bounds above what was found on Born To Die. A shake up in the lyric department would be nice to see next time around, but on this outing Lana Del Rey is able to sell it with striking vocal performances and breathtaking compositions.

7.75/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 38
10:45 PM on 06/21/14
#2
crf1895
get kinda awesome
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Good review. I'll be listening to this for a review (not for AP) next week. I just find her really annoying and fear it might get in the way. Hope the album's worth it.
08:41 AM on 06/22/14
#3
thesinkingship
this boat is obviously sinking
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People's personal grudge with her is hilarious
08:24 PM on 06/22/14
#4
Archael
listens to good music
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gr8 album. west coast is an absolute joy, even if the transition from verse to chorus is just a bit irksome.
08:39 PM on 06/22/14
#5
Zac Djamoos
fantasizing the sight of manhattan
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guess i need to listen to this.
07:17 AM on 06/23/14
#6
Dustin Harkins
Go support Kony 2012 some more
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Good review but I disagree with this statement:

"So if you're one who has no reservations about her back story (as you shouldn't), investing yourself in Lana Del Rey is an easy task. If you're one who can't buy into it, Ultraviolence will do nothing to change your mind."

I have 100% witnessed Ultraviolence changing people's minds already.
07:18 AM on 06/23/14
#7
Jake Jenkins
https://twitter.com/jakej654
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Good review but I disagree with this statement:

"So if you're one who has no reservations about her back story (as you shouldn't), investing yourself in Lana Del Rey is an easy task. If you're one who can't buy into it, Ultraviolence will do nothing to change your mind."

I have 100% witnessed Ultraviolence changing people's minds already.
true true i just know most naysayers are still pretty not into her for the most part
07:52 AM on 06/23/14
#8
re7ard1337
You don't mean a thing to me.
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strange that she is so controversial. everyone I've talked to either loves her or just doesn't care.
07:53 AM on 06/23/14
#9
LogikaX
Project Tu
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I have a bit of constructive criticism to offer for the review. I think it would have been nice to touch more upon the sound of the music as well. This is pretty different sonically than her previous release. But you only spend a couple sentences acknowledging that.

As you said, the narrative between the albums is basically the same. So I really didn't need a breakdown of the meanings of each song. Going into the album, I was more surprised by the change of tone and what Dan Auerbach brought to the table.

For me, the new sound put me off and I wasn't into this album as much as I was into Born to Die; so maybe that's why I felt like the review should have used that as a focal point.
08:01 AM on 06/23/14
Jake Jenkins
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I have a bit of constructive criticism to offer for the review. I think it would have been nice to touch more upon the sound of the music as well. This is pretty different sonically than her previous release. But you only spend a couple sentences acknowledging that.

As you said, the narrative between the albums is basically the same. So I really didn't need a breakdown of the meanings of each song. Going into the album, I was more surprised by the change of tone and what Dan Auerbach brought to the table.

For me, the new sound put me off and I wasn't into this album as much as I was into Born to Die; so maybe that's why I felt like the review should have used that as a focal point.
fair point
08:24 AM on 06/23/14
Dustin Harkins
Go support Kony 2012 some more
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true true i just know most naysayers are still pretty not into her for the most part
This is true, although a lot of naysayers never bothered to give it a chance I'm sure haha, whether by not listening or by listening with a negative mindset. Although I know that's true for most albums by an artist as polarizing as Lana.
08:58 AM on 06/23/14
almightykingdom
auri cupiditatem
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Good review but I disagree with this statement:

"So if you're one who has no reservations about her back story (as you shouldn't), investing yourself in Lana Del Rey is an easy task. If you're one who can't buy into it, Ultraviolence will do nothing to change your mind."

I have 100% witnessed Ultraviolence changing people's minds already.

I agree with this. The aura of Lana Del Rey is finally making sense to listeners. This album was what her first album should have been.
09:35 AM on 06/23/14
wordsAREcancer
we are not consistent!
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I'm on my second listen right now...I actually like it a lot. I love her vocals better on this album I think. "Brooklyn Baby" is probably my favorite so far...
09:54 AM on 06/23/14
Miketheunicycle
"Look mom, no hands!"
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i enjoy this album very much
09:58 AM on 06/23/14
Youarcade
Regular Member
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Good review, loving this even more than Born To Die.
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