Words: Raeven T. Bostic
Although she previously stated that she had no desire to create another record, Lana Del Rey is back with her highly-anticipated third studio album ‘Ultraviolence‘. Working alongside producer Dan Auernach of The Black Keys, we think Del Rey has served up her best album to date.
The album opens with ‘Cruel World‘, a 6 and a half minute track, which starts quietly before the slow and heavy drums and strings envelope the track in a dark mist accompanied by her hypnotic vocals. The title song ‘Ultraviolence‘ follows, an atmospheric, dark track that makes references to domestic abuse in a relationship. Following its release, the song has been under serious scrutiny over lyrics such as ‘he hit me and it felt like a kiss.’ However, Del Rey is known for metaphoric lyrics and the song is above par nonetheless. For the third track, Lana’s echoey vocals glide over the Bond-esque ‘Shades Of Cool‘ which is wonderfully brought to life by the electric guitar riffs, making it a perfect song to vibe to this summer.
Half way mocking hipsters and half way paying homage to her birthplace of New York City, ‘Brooklyn Baby‘ serves as the fourth official song lifted from the album. Compared to its predecessors, lyrically ‘Brooklyn Baby’ is sub par at best, but vocally, it’s one of the most enchanting tracks. Next track ‘Sad Girl‘ – as its title suggests – carries a similar essence of melancholy -Lana’s signature tune- that can be heard throughout the album. For it to be a Lana song, the song is strangely repetitive and lack luster, however the production is one of our favorites.
The simple layering of instruments and vocals on ‘Pretty When You Cry‘, beginning with only a guitar, encompasses the track in an eeriness, which makes it one of our favorites. Lana’s soft and almost child-like voice pours over the guitar riffs, creating the perfect melancholic ballad. takes over . “Money Power Glory” is dark but bold, with a strong drum beat throughout and a cutting electric guitar at its core. It’s very clear that Lana is in control in this song, creating a powerful visual. She sings over the strong beat: “Freedom comes from the core/but that’s not what this bi*ch wants/I want money, and all your power, and all your glory,” making this one of the few songs where she is the dominant force, verses the submissive/inferior party in her previous songs.
Taking shots and throwing shade, ‘F*cked My Way Up To The Top‘ was written about an unnamed artist who slated Lana’s image before stealing it and achieving fame. With a clever and bold song name like that, you’d think the song would knock your socks off. Unfortunately, the lyrics are rather weak: ‘you got nothing, I got tested, and I’m best, yes’ sounds childlike and honestly, makes little to no sense. ‘Old Money‘ could be potentially be the long lost sister of her The Great Gatsby hit, “Young and Beautiful.” Her deep, melodic voice gracefully cradles subtle notes of pianos and violins, making this the most beautiful song on the album, production wise, lyrically, and harmony wise. Concluding the record, ‘The Other Woman‘ – a cover of Nina Simone‘s 1959 single – ends the album in an air of elegance. Del Rey certainly makes it her own and if you were unfamiliar with Simone’s original, it would be hard to detect it was a cover at all.
‘Ultraviolence’ solidifies Del Rey’s place on the throne of ‘dark pop’ and further proves that she is in her own lane being one of the most unique ‘pop’ artists of today! We all know not to expect sunshine and daisies when hearing her music, but it’s acceptable as her music comes from a place of gut-wrenching truth that resonates through the depths of souls. We have to thank the music gods for allowing this piece of art to be made! Thank you Lana!
Songs You Can’t Skip: ‘Old Money’, ‘Money, Power, Glory, & ‘Ultraviolence’