Lana Del Rey’s following has become massive in the past couple years. Her unique and empowering style gained attention in 2012 with her reckless album Born To Die. This release sparked by her hopeless romantic attitude and vivid ideas of life, introduced indie to the music world like never before. Lana Del Rey is back again in 2014 with her newest record Ultraviolence, putting a dark and dramatic spin on her captivating sound.
Just by looking at the track list, you can experience the tone of Ultraviolence. Diction like “Cruel World”, “Sad Girl”, and “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” are only some of the examples of Lana’s deteriorating emotions. Her romantic adventures are no longer magical and utopic but rather broken and ugly. Title track “Ultraviolence” uses storytelling words like “He hit me and it felt like a kiss” to describe the how the beauty of romance conceals the dark and terrible ways of broken relationships. Her broken heart is clearly portrayed throughout this record, but she really hits home on tracks like “Sad Girl”, where the empty emotions of being a “mistress on the side” are strongly conveyed, leaving listeners with chills. Although the repetitive melody of the chorus is cliché in Lana’s work, the way she expresses herself in this song is solely focused on the emotion. She does it again on “Pretty When You Cry.” Although many aspects of the track are enjoyable, listeners can only concentrate on the pain in Lana’s voice that is so intensely showcased in the song. You don’t even need to listen to the lyrics to understand the hurt that is being conveyed.
The lyrics and vocal intonation aren’t the only brooding elements of Ultraviolence, however. Lana Del Rey recorded with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys in the studio, and it shows. The introduction instrumentals of “Sad Girl” sound like a bluesy version of The Black Keys themselves, but even so, Lana’s individual style pushes through, making the Auerbach’s old rock vibe a wonderful complement to Lana Del Rey’s dark fairytale.
A lot of the chills on this album come from the distorted guitar riffs and vintage style in the sound. “Shades of Cool” holds a stable balance of rock and roll solos and dreamy, old-fashioned refrains. Odd combo, but catchy as hell. “West Coast” even has that psychedelic style that is really strong in The Black Key’s newest record Turn Blue. Of course, Lana makes it her own with her signature chorus style of cyclic, lingering vocals.
The grand finale of the album, however, is something completely new for Lana Del Rey. “The Other Woman” erases any doubts of Lana’s versatility. If a stronger rock sound on the album wasn’t enough, she ends it with a softly driven vintage track, putting listeners back in the 1950s while they spin her record on a turntable. This surprising ending to Ultraviolence sets Lana Del Rey’s bar to the next level.
Lana Del Rey’s dark turn on romance and adventure in Ultraviolence is a crucial success in her career. This stunning variety in her music proves her great extensive talents, yet she stays true to the sound that makes her so special. This major leap opens endless possibilities for what Lana Del Rey will bring to the table next. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.Feature photo credit: Neil Krug