By the time I arrived in Barcelona for my semester abroad winter of my junior year, I was hooked on Lana Del Rey. As I played her songs on 8tracks from my stark European bedroom, the space became the hangout spot for me and my roommates. Sure, it probably had more to do with the fact that I was closest to the front of the apartment, but the music played a big part. As we sat around on my prison-quality twin bed, planning our excursions around our new continent, we sung along to Del Rey’s unique, slightly off-color tunes. We planned, we giggled, we got emotional – all with the star’s voice crooning in the background. Lana Del Rey essentially became the soundtrack to the best time of our lives.
Her unusual sound, her retro-yet-edgy look, and her boundary-pushing lyrics – Lana had it all. I even wrote this article for Karmaloop during my internship last summer. It’s safe to say I was a little obsessed.
Now, a year later, Lana’s new album Ultraviolence is nearing a month old.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m underwhelmed.
Where Del Rey’s tone was once a breath of fresh air, now it seems a bit inflexible. Where her lyrics were once edgy and thought provoking, they now seem a bit desperate. In my post last year, I stated that the singer seemed to overcome her past in a powerful way on her Born To Die album. On Ultraviolence, it seems like the singer/songwriter may never get away from her dark past. Rather than showing the ability to overcome, she shows passivity to the men in her songs. And that’s not the only thing Del Rey seems passive to: almost half of the songs in the album emphasize drugs. Heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, “violet pills,” you name it.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike the album. I’d be lying if I said I won’t listen to it again. I just sort of dislike the artist’s current vibe. I guess when you put anyone on a pedestal you’re bound to be a little disappointed, right?
So here’s hoping Del Rey cures her perpetual Summertime Sadness and comes back swinging with her next album.
After all, my post-grad life deserves a soundtrack, too.