Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
Ultraviolence is the Lana Del Rey album that should never have been. Imagine the meeting in UMG HQ. “These demos are, ahem, very interesting, Ms Del Rey”, says the Deputy Vice President of Music Marketing and Artistic Management. “However, we were thinking that the songs might benefit from being, well, speeded up a little”. “Speeded up?” “Yes. You know. More BPM. Erm. Much [sic] more”. To her eternal credit, Ms Del Rey pouted one her biggest pouts (and that’s a big pout), upped sticks, turned her back on the meeting, and left the room. And then, to the eternal credit of the corporate heads at UMG, they gave in. Like totally. Proving, if proof were needed, that it’s just so difficult to resist Ms Del Rey. If this scenario even faintly resembles any real-life scenario, then it was the most inspired musical about turn of recent times. Born To Die was a great album, but it was uneven. For every masterpiece like ‘Off To The Races’, there was a pseudo-dancefloor stinker like ‘Diet Mountain Dew’. And to big musical corporations, pseudo-dance floor stinkers are where the spondoolicks are usually thought to lie. On Ultraviolence, by contrast, the dance floor is a million miles away. And every song is a gem. True, there’s a formula. The songs all start slow, build up to a big but not overstated chorus, revert back to the slow theme, and then end all moodily. Sure, the message may be a little confused at times. It’s an album that exudes girl power. But it’s like watching an episode of Buffy. The protagonist has real agency, but her tops do seem to be a little more closely cropped than the other women on screen. And, yes, there’s the full range of sometimes slightly strange Lana vocals. The one where she coochy-coos like she’s talking to a new-born baby is a particular favourite. Yet nothing should take away from the sheer magnificence of this album. There are some stupendously good songs. ‘Brooklyn Baby’ and ‘West Coast’ stand out. There are also some utterly sublime moments. Try 1.21 on ‘Shades of Cool’. This is a wonderful album. Ms Del Rey, we are forever in your debt for pouting that pout and walking out of that room.