Lana Del Ray
Born to Die – The Paradise EditionPolydor ****
Elizabeth Woolridge Grant filtered through the chattersphere about 18 months ago when her debut single, Video Games, was released (under the rather more Bel Air-esque moniker of Lana Del Ray). The song was suitably lithe and enigmatic, and the accompanying YouTube video, created by Del Ray (using webcams and old home movies), spawned some 20 million hits and sold the tune up and down the river.
And yet something of a shroud was cast over Del Ray; who was she and where did she come from? Did she write her songs? Did she really get sent to boarding school at the age of 14 to deal with a drink problem? Did she really live in a trailer park in her 20s, working with the homeless and the drug/alcohol dependent? And why were her previous albums withdrawn from iTunes?
A business strategy was sniffed (and sniffed at), and then it came to a point in late 2011 where the very people who had once claimed interest in Del Ray no longer believed what she said.
That’s their loss, frankly, because Born to Die (originally released 11 months ago, and which now, with an extra disc of eight songs, arrives in time for record vouchers to be handed over), remains something of a one-off. The original still reeks of wilderness-years sex (sometimes, arguably dubious) and a taint of bruised (sometimes, literally) relationships, all of which is underpinned by a soundtrack that fuses retro-pop with cinematic with hip-hop.
The new songs on The Paradise Edition disc are actually just as good (particularly Ride, American and Gods Monsters), and not yet so familiar that they pass you by. However, a cover of Blue Velvet is, perhaps, too blatant a nod to the kind of dysfunction that Del Ray’s own quite lyrical songs allude to.
That aside, what you have here is one of the best albums of 2012 enhanced, reenergised and (still) totally radiant.
Download: Video Games, Gods Monsters