Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
Del Rey’s fans are going to have to allow a little room for evolution if they’re going to get behind the haunting and lyrically powerful Ultraviolence. Gone are the hip hop influences, tightly structured choruses and occasional upbeat rhythms of her debut Born To Die, replaced with a new a more meditative Del Rey, happier to drift lazily from melody to melody.
Stating her new, lethargic manifesto boldly with opening track Cruel World, Del Rey paints a picture of a desperate woman, as she does many times over the next 70 minutes, at the mercy of a psychologically poisonous man. Women are rarely powerful and seem consistently damaged, but the aim here isn’t female empowerment. Instead the album is an attempt at conveying a miserable but compelling version of reality as doomed relationships and terrible decisions are defended to the teeth.
Desperate lyrics match Del Rey’s beautiful, sedated style that carries through the entire album, including in title track Ultraviolence. Those hoping for a femme fatale could be fooled by the song’s opening line (“He used to call me DN/That stood for deadly nightshade”), but quickly becomes a desperate meditation on negative attention and domestic violence.
The last stand out track is The Other Woman, on which Del Rey’s haunting melodies become almost operatic, as the lyrics evolve from illustrating a mistress’ freedom, to her inevitable loneliness. But the mistress she taps into is not a strictly modern one: like the image of Del Rey herself, many of the songs give us a glimpse of an American history that still fits to a modern aesthetic, and it’s one you just can’t help returning to.
Songs have far more consistency than on her genre-hopping 2012 debut, both lyrically and musically, which is fortunate because Del Rey’s new brand of misery is addictive. More than most, the album promotes a mood with a singularity of focus that stretches out across the whole album, but leaves an ache that you can’t help but deepen when you inevitably hit repeat.
Joe Manners Lewis
Ultraviolence was released on 13th June 2014. For further information or to order the album visit Lana Del Rey’s website here.
Watch the video for Shades of Cool here: