Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
on May 5, 2012
I have to say that this is one of the most unusual and most successful debut albums I have ever heard, from an artist that even a few months ago I did not know existed. Both lyrically and musically, the album takes us into an alternate world, a world populated by young women who are fatally attracted to seriously flawed men, but this doesn't seem to bother them. They not only accept it, they revel in it. Although most of the songs are built around this theme, redundancy is avoided because the characters are vividly detailed and the musical presentations are diverse. I would like to mention that any comparisons I make to musical genres or other artists must be considered approximations; the music on this album is highly original and frankly, rather difficult to describe.
In the opener and title song, "Born To Die", Lana sings a ballad with a world-weariness and fatalism that calls to mind Marianne Faithfull or even Marlene Dietrich: "Feet don't fail me now/Take me to the finish line...Choose your last words/This is the last time/Cause you and I, we were born to die". The next track, my favorite, "Off To The Races", is completely different, an upbeat hip-hop track. In this song a girl with "a Las Vegas past" is kept and well-tended by a gangster type who "...loves me with every beat of his cocaine heart". This relationship would seem dysfunctional to most, but the picture Lana paints makes it sound valid, desirable and a lot of fun. In the somber "Video Games", she coaxes her young lover, "Tell me all the things you wanna do/I heard that you like the bad girls honey, is that true?" We return to hip-hop and enter the playground of the wealthy in "National Anthem": "Money is the anthem of success/So before we go out, what's your address?...God you're so handsome/Take me to the Hamptons". "Carmen" in the ballad by that name is one character not preoccupied with relationships. Her problems are different: "The boys, the girls/They all like Carmen...Doesn't have a problem/Lyin' to herself/'Cause her liquor's top shelf". "Million Dollar Man" is sung in a style that I would have to call 40's or 50's blues (very interesting vocal here), and the reason she is blue is, as she tells her man, "You're screwed up and brilliant/You look like a million-dollar man/So why is my heart broke?"
The total effect of the album would be depressing except that the interesting lyrics and Lana's varied vocals are such a delight that any sadness is mitigated. Then too, why feel sorry for someone who doesn't feel sorry for herself? Lana's characters are content with the lives they are living. I hope Lana gets to make a second album because I certainly want to see where she takes us next.