Sunday, December 2, 2012

Paradise | Lana Del Rey

Indie-pop artist Lana Del Rey has recently released a new EP entitled Paradise, an addition to her album Born to Die (though it can also be purchased separately). Now, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed Born to Die, but it took a long time to grow on me. When I wrote the review of that album, I wasn't the most fond of it, but I wrote an edit at the bottom explaining that every slight bit of positivity I found became magnified and granted it another star.

Paradise didn't take that extra time to grow, for Lana Del Rey has improved. The very first track (and single), "Ride" still has everything Lana did well on Born to Die. Her voice is relaxing, the music and lyrics are moving... but it's just... better. I didn't have to try and love it; I loved it immediately, especially the strings and how they become even more present towards the end. I totally didn't cry a little the first time I heard it, either. "Ride" is easily one of my favorites.

"American" is the next song, and the strings are still taking the stage, but it does have its poppier elements as well, which somehow reminds me of Bjork's "All is Full of Love" at times (but only on an instrumental level). It's a bit gloomy without being too much; it's nostalgic. Really, that's the best way to describe most of Lana Del Rey's Paradise. It feels incredibly nostalgic.

The next planned single is called "Cola", and oh my goodness, it's weird. Just go listen to those beginning lyrics and anyone will see what I'm saying. As a whole, the song is more fun-sounding than the previous tracks, particularly the chorus. The bridge takes an unusual turn since Lana decides to show off a bit vocally and hits notes that she doesn't normally attempt. "Cola" is definitely my least favorite song from Paradise; it simply doesn't do much for me.

Oppositely, "Body Electric" is one of my all-time favorite Lana Del Rey song. It's very eerie. Sure, Lana Del Rey has made darker music than most, but this song takes it to a whole new level. It was one of the two songs I was most excited to hear from this EP, the other being Lana's cover of "Blue Velvet." I loved hearing it on Lana's H&M commercial and wanted to hear more. She's great with this kind of music, and I hope she continuous to offer quality music such as this.

"Gods and Monsters" seems to be the most pop-friendly song on the album, and I simply cannot relate to it at all. Musically, it sounds catchy, but lyrically, I feel extremely detached. It seems to be about someone extremely reckless without a good sense of what's good for her. Though the general meaning isn't bad and something I'd actually like to hear about, I find myself wishing Lana Del Rey could be more feminist lyrically. I think I'll be able to appreciate this more with time if I can get past the certain irritation I feel.

"Yayo" (whatever that means) returns to the melancholy mood that was set towards the beginning of the album. I'm a little confused lyrically, but there's nothing wrong with the song. It's quite relaxing. If I were to compile a ranking list of the tracks of Paradise from best to worse, "Yayo" would be the middle ground.

The album ends quite peacefully with "Bel Air," as it is reminiscent of a lullaby. The whole feel of it is very different than the rest of the album. Even though it still has a darkness to it, it's so much lighter than the rest of Paradise as well as Born to Die. It's more pretty than it is anything else, like the single that introduced me to Lana Del Rey's music, "Video Games," but it's still very different than "Video Games." It has more of a film score-type of magic to it, too good for real life. That being said, "Bel Air" is another one of my favorite Lana Del Rey songs.

Paradise has a lot to offer. As good as Born to Die is, in the grand scheme of things, it has quite a few repetative sounds. Paradise breaks Born to Die's habits since this EP is different, offering a sound that's even more chilled-out and pretty. It's more soulful and jazzy than anything, breaking from traditional indie pop. The music this woman is making goes to show that some genres will never die, even if they are often hidden by the generic radio stations that will play the same five songs that sound the same until audiences are finally ready for another generic set. At the end of the decade, century, or any other length of time, quality music is still quality music.

4.5/5 Stars

(If you read my review of The Family Tree: The Roots by Radical Face, you know that I was ready to give up star-ratings. As of now, I am unsure... I hope to post about this sometime soon.)

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