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Lana Del Rey – Paradise

Posted on the 14 November 2012 by Audiocred @audiocred

Last year’s Born to Die opened with a jilting orchestral chord, announcing Lana del Rey and setting the stage for her larger-than-life album. For all it’s flaws (over-long, over-wrought, aimless), the first moments of Born to Die felt like the birth of something great, as the title track rolled into singles “Blue Jeans” and “Video Games,” the inescapability of Lana del Rey that year became all-too-easy to comprehend.

Strange, then, that Paradise opens with a dirge-like whimper, as if del Rey was preemptively apologizing for the tracks that follow. Perhaps that discomfort is why Paradise has been billed as an EP (and packaged with a known quantity, a re-issue of Born to Die), despite it’s half hour run time. Though certainly shorter than the mammoth 15-tracks of Born to

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Die, this is much more than a vehicle for the single, which happens to be that same opening track, “Ride”.

‘Been trying hard not to get into trouble, but I got a war in my mind,’ del Rey sings, setting up the tongue in cheek chorus of ‘just ride.’ Whether vehicular or sexual, del Rey’s self-characterization of “just trying to get by” is nothing new, but here the words are sung with a mournful air. You get the sense that del Rey has done the worst thing you can do on the internet: read the comments. About her disastrous turn on SNL, the snide reveals of her reinvented identity, the swift turn from excitement to derision that came with her rise–del Rey seems unable to escape the image of herself that has been created by critics on the internet.

If del Rey is indeed in the midst of a funk, it blankets the first half of Paradise, with every lyric seeming second guessed and dismissed. On “Body Electric,” she sings, ‘we get down every Friday night, dancing and grinding in the pale moon light,’ but gone is the supreme confidence of “Born to Die,” where she sang the similar but so-much-more-genuine sounding, “I feel so alone on a Friday night, can you make it feel like home, if I tell you you’re mine?’

No, it’s not until her cover of the Clover’s “Blue Velvet” (you know, the one from the landmark David Lynch movie) that we get a glimpse of cocky, sexy del Rey we know and love. That song begins with an almost identical chord to that which leads off Born to Die, suggesting that maybe producer Rick Ross realized the direction this project was getting, and thought that a cover where del Rey could just sing and not think so much might reverse its chorus.

Whether or not that was the intention, the songs that follow are noticeably reinvigorated. Del Rey’s ghostly drawl returns on “Gods & Monsters,” a simmering jam where she deadpans, ‘fuck yeah, give it to me, this is what I truly want.’ It’s as if only through irony can the real del Rey (if she exists at this point) really come through. Similarly, “Yayo” features del Rey putting her much-speculated-at daddy issues on display, daring us to take the song at face value.

Paradise seems like a place that she’s trying to find a path toward on this album, rather than somewhere she’s already found. Who know’s if del Rey will ever get it together and live up to the promise of her talent, but at least on Paradise we get a needed reminder of what that just might sound like.

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2.5 / 5 bars

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