What To Listen To – ‘Ultraviolence’ by Lana Del Rey

Photo: Lana Del Rey / Polydor LTD
Photo: Lana Del Rey / Polydor LTD


We reported on many stories of speculation in regards to what kind of album Lana Del Rey’s second studio LP would be, and when it was going to be released. Finally, it is here and it is a lot to talk about! Ultraviolence had some nice surprises, but that’s not why I wanted to review it this week…

If you’re a huge fan of the sultry singer like I am, you’ll definitely see some amazing work on this record. For a lot of people, however, there were many different issues with it. No album will be perfect, it’s not meant to be perfect in a lot of cases. What I heard from this album is that Lana wanted to take her music to a more nostalgic, home-grown direction and she definitely succeeded.

The instrumental production quality was, in one word, imperfect. There is a dirty, messy and somewhat untidy quality to the production on the album. Some parts, particularly in the vocals are not perfectly set on beat. This gives off a live-performance vibe or an idea of how music used to be recorded before certain technologies.

“Shades of Cool” (which is one of my favourites from the album) is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The bridge section with the guitar solo before the final chorus is sometimes hard to listen to. Not only is the production horrible, but even the guitar leaps out of key at one point to throw the listener off. Personally, I love this technique in recording music but, at the same time, I kind of hate it.

Melodically, the entire album is a lot more simple than her previous work and the themes running through the lyrics are pretty much identical to the hurtful, unconditional love she sang about in her Born To Die album. I can see the point she is trying to make about sticking to her poetic views on love and heartbreak but it ran a little bit dry for me. Many people will love another full album of love songs but it did make me roll my eyes a little bit.

There are some absolute gems on this album though that need to be mentioned. Songs like “Ultraviolence”, “Brooklyn Baby”, “Shades of Cool” and “West Coast” are already fan-favourites. My personal favourite on the album has to be “Old Money”. It’s simple but so, so effective. The verses are absolute gorgeous and the chorus is so uplifting. I do feel that after you’ve listened from “Ultraviolence” to “West Coast” on the album tracklist, you have heard the fruit of the album.

I selfishly really wanted Ultraviolence to be better than Born To Die but I can’t see it doing that, not yet, at least. This is only her second album so we probably haven’t seen the best from Lana Del Rey just yet. She previously mentioned that she will one day quit music and focus on film-making. Personally, I hope that’s not until she releases another masterpiece like Born To Die. This album will quench the thirst of those who enjoy poetic outbursts of love an heartbreak but it will keep some of us very, very thirsty for more.

Sunil Gangarh
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