Here’s the second full-lengther from Lana Del Rey. She still cannot sing and this album is somehow both better and worse than her debut. Now, I loathed Born To Die, everything about it, the unimaginative song-settings, trite lyrics, faked back-story, phoned-in delivery, the cloying, anxious, hopeful-to-deceive narcissism of it all. But I’ll acknowledge it had some hooks – none that I got hung up on, but it was a sound for the time and some of it resonated. Ultraviolence has none of the hooks of Born To Die, there’s nothing here to buy into apart from the myth – but this somehow hangs together as a cohesive set of songs, it makes more sense hearing all of this in a row than it ever did Born To Die. (That also makes it boring as fuck). There’s no thin excitement around a what the fuck will this monstrosity do next? moment – or prediction of a moment – the way there was when I heard Born To Die. This is a flatline of sound, of an idea, this is Nora Ephron making Twin Peaks.
Not that much has changed though, all up – the lame attempts to ride side-saddle with hip-hop seem to have disappeared (apart from some lyrical conceit) but for the most part it’s the so-bored/bet-you-never-actually-listened-to-Julee-Cruise routine all over again. Sure, Dan Auerbach is there this time in the producer’s chair (dude has worked out how to get paid!) and he does add a few little hints of his guitar here and there but for the most part it’s all about holding the ether rag up to Del Rey’s mouth, then draping it over the microphone as she “sings” something people are still hoping to call “dream-pop” when it approaches neither vestige of that, sounding always as flat as the hyphen in the middle.
Again we have this “sad girl/bad girl” bullshit to contend with, from a person who looks like they never walk anywhere, but might occasionally do the Stepford Hover.
This time there are attempts to hit back at some of the criticisms (Fucked My Way Up To The Top) but none of it sounds convincing. And all of it sounds like someone over the legal limit to drive before lunchtime, never mind that artist and core audience’s idea of history is something you delete from your browser and that as a concept, as a thing to do duckfaced selfie isn’t the embarrassment it should sound like but rather a way of life, dependent only on x amount of likes and y don’t you love me yet I’m pouting so hard right now?
As a study in boredom it’s not even vaguely interesting – and the only excuse for Del Rey’s version of singing is the belief she was woken too early after a dental surgery and is still taking all meals through a straw. (She’d have you believe all meals are served on ice, actually).
The only way I can take this faux torch music, this hacked out quackery, is if I find out it’s performance art and that Del Rey’s concept was to make an album in character as the bit-part Jerry Hall offers in Tim Burton’s first reboot of Batman (Alicia Hall) – after Jack Nicholson’s Joker character commits her face to the sad-drama mask. Lana Del Rey is that cracked chanteuse. And the most cracked part is that people continue to buy into this as something worth hearing.
The way she name-drops Lou Reed and jazz makes my blood boil a little too. I can’t believe a fucking word of this shit.