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

Robbie Daw | January 30, 2012 11:17 am

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!