"Ride" by Lana Del Rey
“Paradise,” Lana Del Rey (Interscope)
Lana Del Rey’s “Paradise” gives fans a holiday bonus and haters a second chance at love ... or augmented hate.
The eight new tracks are available as a package deal with her “Born to Die” release from January (in case those who resisted the first time around need extra incentive), and also as a separate buy.
The singer mysteriously materialized about a year ago, a torchy seductress who became an enigmatic YouTube phenomenon with her video for “Video Games.” She followed up with the album “Born to Die,” projecting a highly sexualized, self-destructive persona who cast spells in surrealistic style.
However, her carefully designed image was frayed by a disastrous appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and the revelation of her background as a well-off New Yorker who had previously tried a music career using her real name, Lizzy Grant.
Yet if “Paradise” is any indication, the undaunted Del Rey’s artistic vision hasn’t changed.
She’s a perfect fit for a remake of “Blue Velvet,” her low-slung and drawn-out delivery tethered to beat-prominent orchestration, and her stately voice hovers above the genteel strains of “American” as she sings, “You make me crazy, you make me wild.” Better still, opening track “Ride” is as intoxicating as anything Del Rey has done, her voice filling the lush spaciousness of the arrangement that in turn envelops her as she spirals to an exquisite chorus payoff: “Been trying hard not to get into trouble, but I’ve got a war in my mind/I just ride, just ride ...”
Unfortunately, Del Rey has an absurd side that undermines her captivating aura and fuels a nagging sense that she’s simply ridiculous. When she grandly proclaims her genitalia to be soft-drink flavored, for example, not only might you feel differently about Pepsi-Cola, you might develop heightened awareness of her many affectations and consequently find her too phony to bear.
Still, the music on “Paradise” is gorgeous (if less consistent than “Born To Die”), and her voice is captivating. So accept her as a poignant bad girl — who is perhaps addicted to some kind of downer, explaining her addled delivery — and you’ll be rewarded.
Rating (five possible); 3-1/2