Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die”: Review Revue

Jan 30th, 2012 // 16 Comments

Will we ever be able to judge Lana Del Rey’s music by its own merit and leave behind any persistent thoughts of her mysterious/so-called calculated rise to popularity and Saturday Night Live performances that caused the Internet to explode a couple weeks back? Who knows — the dust has yet to settle ahead of the release of the 25-year-old’s debut Born To Die tomorrow. Most of the reviews of the album range from cautious or skeptical to downright scathing. Head below to see our roundup of what the critics have to say about Del Rey’s first big outing as a pop star.

:: Spin attempts to wade through the early media hype/subsequent backlash/post-SNL dissection, and comes up with this: “Whether Born to Die sells 100,000 copies or 10,000 or 1,500, it has served a valuable purpose as the Internet’s insta-backlash, hype-vortex tipping point, the darkest night yet of our Tumblr-ing soul. A cautionary tale… This record is not godawful. Nor is it great. But it’s better than we deserve. We broke her; we bought her.”

:: The Boston Globe can’t mask its disappointment: “Right now, she’s a work in progress. Or in the parlance of the old Hollywood glamour Del Rey strives for, she’s not ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille. Born to Die did teach me something, though. If I’m going to believe in an artist, she has to believe in herself first.”

:: Rolling Stone is a bit more brutal: “…her voice is pinched and prim, and her song doctors need to go the fuck back to med school. As any fan of Madonna, Britney or Steely Dan could tell you, lyrics about the perils of seduction work better when attached to seductive tunes.”

:: Drowned In Sound, however, digs the album…we think: “If you ask me, I reckon the girl doesn’t know whether she wants to be a classic Hollywood glamourpuss or a modern pop star, so she’s doing both at once. Nothing wrong with that here, songs all cinematic, like a warped Casablanca channeling the Rat Pack via Do The Right Thing. More interesting than a lot of starlets by far, and more confident. Whatever she ends up being, she seems fun, this Lana Del Rey. A lot more fun than you’d think to look at her.”

:: The New York Times finds the album to be limp: “Ms. Del Rey, 25, can do better, most likely, or at least different. Earlier, under the name Lizzy Grant, she put out a Lilith Fair-worthy release called ‘Kill Kill,’ that’s sprightly by comparison to “Born to Die.” On the new album four-minute songs feel like seven or eight, so packed are they with short verses and bridges and changes and Sturm und Drang, to say nothing of Ms. Del Rey’s languor, which can verge on pallor.”

:: The Guardian wonders if the singer is smarter than the masses assume: “If Del Rey is wild at heart, she is just weird enough on top to remain compelling… And, after all these anthems for doomed female youth, a little mystery still remains. Is Lana Del Rey a moral creature, pointing out the dangers of losing oneself? Or is the former Lizzy Grant just using the inevitability of death as an excuse for accepting the easy fate of being some bad’un’s arm-candy?”

:: The New Yorker zeroes in on Born To Die‘s instrumentation: “The production is almost distractingly even, as if everyone involved had been locked in a room for a month with the Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony,’ which has itself been accused of being derivative… The album that lurks behind Born to Die is Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which is one of the most visible and successful marriages of sharp hip-hop edges and the luxurious drape of a string section.”

:: Finally, Slate separates Del Rey’s persona from the album itself: “I like the album better with each listen—the more time I spend in its company, the more I feel as though I’m approaching it on something like its own terms.”

What do you think of Lana’s debut album? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!

  1. Lovemehateme

    I think Lana is great… Love her music and as a person whose buying her music all I can say is that the critics should shut the hell up… I recommended Lana to my little sister and she immediately loved her music… Dark paradise and Off to the races are my favorites!

  2. Dateless

    I went with your review of Million Dollar Man and was totally blown away. the reviews you posted seem dire, and don’t seems to match what I’ve heard so far. Most of the songs have a dark epicness that smack of MBDTF In a good way.

  3. Jesse James

    I think album is great A++. Seriously.

  4. Elis

    Love the album so much gets better the more i listen to it! Very unique voice i think once she gets comfortable with fame she can go far.

  5. vincent

    it makes me kinda sad reading this reviews because she deserves better. im in love with this album i think she’s different and sounds less mainstream than these pop stars of today she deserves to be heard well. i really hoped she would get good reviews but appearantly people are blinded by the SNL performances, which were not good, but if you check out the other performances, it’s better to make up your mind. Unlike any other album, I love every single song on ‘Born to die’. Her style, her voice, the lyrics.. She deserves some respect. She got another big fan.

  6. g9

    I love the album. I don’t take these reviews seriously (especially the American ones)—they’re all reviewing her SNL performance and her hype, not the album itself. A shame, truly.

  7. idolator lover!

    Totally agree!!

  8. idolator lover!

    Totally agree with g9

  9. Nat

    I think her album is great!…it’s not perfect but in no way is it awful, bad or even mediocre. Everyone seems to have jumped on the ‘Lana sucks’ bandwagon without even giving the album a chance…their mistake though because there is some really great music on Born to Die….It would be a shame is she doesn’t make another album because I am a fan!

  10. gigglezzz

    I swear Rolling Stones got the dumbest critics. How is that site still running?

  11. I can’t believe the negative reviews of this album! I have had Lana’s album on repeat..its just a damn good piece of art. she has a beautiful voice, the songs just put me in this different world when I listen. I have not had this happen in such a long time. Also contrary to popular belief, she can sing live!

  12. Why Lana Del Rey’s image is actually more powerful than her sound…

  13. Di

    I love this album! First one I’ve bought in 10 years, her lyrics have depth and her style is totally unique. . .not cookie cutter like a lot of other artists. I guess this just goes to show how horridly wrong the critiques can be and are, poor thing, she does deserve so much more respect than she has gotten from the music industry. . . it almost smells of jealousy.

  14. Westbound

    What I don’t understand is why the critics expected so much out of one song of hers… And then proceeded to say the album was junk. Rolling Stones was by far the worst in terms of actual professionalism and credibility; doesn’t even seem like they took a fair listen to the album.

    For me, I love the album. It’s amazing and totally refreshing to have on my iTunes filled with different variations of the electronic genre.

  15. Gigi

    When lady gaga came out, I was obsessed with her weirdness and voice. When Lana came out, I was pretty much mesmerized by the music video for video games. Trust me, I am NOT into slow songs, Im more into hip hop and house but when I saw that simple, adorable video and heard her voice I immediately told my friend to watch it and she fell in love with it too. Soon enough, I listened to her album and totally forgot about gaga and all those other pop stars like Katy Perry. Who needs them when you can have someone so beautiful without effort like Lana? Her songs are beautiful, she is beautiful, and I hope she keeps doing music.

  16. John

    Critics just can’t seem to come to terms with aloofness/awkwardness and current inability to be the star performer on stage in conjunction with her music, and they keep letting that obscure their reviews. Her music is beautiful.

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