The secret to Lana Del Rey's success lies in the fantasy world she's created with her music and captivating visuals. Even when she contributes to major motion pictures like The Great Gatsby or Maleficent, her glamorous, youthful and troubled world bleeds into her work. The worry of any indie artist that has become a worldwide sensation is that their music will be the first to dilute into an easily digestible product for the masses, but that couldn't be farther from the truth with Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence.
After Born To Die and Paradise, fans and critics expected more of the same: brooding vocals over orchestral suites. While there is plenty of that on Ultraviolence, the album starts out with the guitar-driven "Cruel World." Much of the album takes a stripped down approach, relying on march-like drums and guitars to supplement Lana's ethereal coos.
The lyrics have improved dramatically since Born To Die, the phrase "pale moonlight" never appears once (although she still continues to say "dope" with reckless abandon). If you want a good drinking game, just listen to any of Lana's previous music (from either her two albums or her indie releases) and drink every time you hear that phrase. She sings about the same themes of love, money and power, but this time around she paints her lyrical pictures with an extended vocabulary.
Lana's voice has also improved, mainly because she chose to stay in her upper register during most of the album. When she made her debut, she said she used her lower range to establish that she was a serious singer, not a bubblegum-smacking wannabe. But now that we all know she's more serious than her competitors, it's refreshing to hear her take her voice to new heights on interesting melodies.
Lana's music has always had a vintage quality to it, and this album seems sun-drenched with rays coming from Southern California in the late '60s, early '70s. In a world where synthesized beats and vocals edited with so much precision they sound unnatural is the new normal, it's refreshing to have a languid collection of boozy, echo-filled tracks.
I'm in love with Lana Del Rey and all she represents. Her music takes me to a place I've never been, and although she sings with sadness, I'm never depressed with what she delivers.