Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon Review

It’s been just over a year since New York’s Lana Del Rey released Ultraviolence; an album much more expansive and sophisticated than Born To Die and now with Honeymoon Lana will be aiming to build on the themes set in her last album with which she was taken a little more seriously as an artist in producing what was an improvement on her 2012 effort. What her previous albums have lacked is versatility amongst the album tracks and at times some ill-fitting vocals. Here she has to be careful to not just repeat the improvements made with her last album along with maintaining a strong vocal performance throughout and look to diversifying the content of the album whilst keeping to her chosen theme. She’s shown she’s a decent artist but is she anything more?

The title track suggests that she might be.  It’s a track reminiscent of the dark and theatrical sounds of her previous album with sleek string sections and lapping guitar riffs that go on to develop with military-style snare drums in toe. Lana’s vocal stays low in range and remains smooth and allows her vocal to soar and fall effortlessly to encapsulate a ghostly and soothing love song. It’s a track that maintains the retrospective, classy aesthetic she appears to be pursing, but it is simply a graceful and gently powerful track. Beyond the high sophistication and grace of the title track’s aesthetic and style, we find ‘High By The Beach’. This track is kept of a fragile edge by a light whirring organ and then a drum sample signals the a hazy and quietly atmospheric track which raises it’s soft reverberating production when it is gradually levitating it’s sound in a melodic and wistful fashion. It’s a cool and modern take on the retrospective style of the title track and again her vocals remain strong despite the more flexible nature of the delivery required.  ‘Terrence Loves You’ sees her revert back to the swooning ballads of the title track. In what is a familiar and simple song structure she is able to make it her own through her quivering melodies and through subtle echo and distorting techniques that make her melodies all the more haunting and intriguing against a structural backdrop that should promote a relaxing feel. It’s a much more organic atmospheric track as opposed to the boldness of ‘High By The Beach’ but it’s grace and audible beauty is very much appreciated.

‘Music To Watch Boys To’ sticks to the more engaging string-laden pop ballads with lustrous vocals combining with the rising strings with a secondary vocal that is delivered in a more ringing and distorted fashion. It strikes an in between middling the pure and graceful title track and the more modern trip hop of ‘High By The Beach’. A song that epitomises the sound of the album. ‘Art Deco’ also operates in the middle ground of the two overriding sounds featured on the album, but in this case the instrumentation and vocals are faded out to generate a more washed out piece of Dream Pop which this song becomes whilst keeping it’s Trip-hop beats. An combination that works and is used with ‘Freak in a powerful and potent way. ‘Blackest Day’ and Religion’ are a little too similar to other tracks in a way that wasn’t really needed again. ‘Salvatore’ is a ballad that plays upon Lana’s vocal highs brilliantly and combines a classical style with softened trap drops and whirring synths. It’s another odd combination that works well in isolation and with the theme of her album. ’24’ is done in a similar way and in a cinematic Spanish sound, but is perhaps a little too disjointed for it to work as well. Honeymoon is an undeniable improved effort and as an album it is so much more smoother with a greater grasp of variety and the emphasis on a strong vocal to make it work. It is done here brilliantly and is probably her best album to date. The only problem is that it is perhaps a little too long at fourteen tracks which means you hear the same method of track a little too often, making it easy to spot the album fillers, but even those tracks in isolation are well delivered and produced. She’s moved  beyond what can be perceived as a decent artist with this album.

Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon = 8/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Lana Del Rey – Shades of Cool

Lana Del Rey continues the intrigue over her upcoming third studio album Ultraviolence and follows up on the release of the dazzling ‘West Coast’ last month. It showed early signs of promise from the Dan Auerbach produced album and could be a sign of the how albums potential as a whole. This will likely be the result of having just a single producer and one with experience at the other side of the microphone with The Black Keys as opposed to having several with Born To Die. ‘Shades of Cool’ still has that wonderfully distant and subdued feel of the previous single, but unlike the undulating pulse of ‘West Coast’; this track is a delicately formed ballad with the traditional thin instrumental arrangement with strings, the gentle pluck of the guitar and the brush of the snare drum. This song is made by Lana’s vocal. It trembles and rises to higher tones with comfortable effortlessness and is more of a fragile, floating swoon as opposed to the more driven and direct vocal of the previous track. The big guitar solo breaks the entrancement a little, but it just as gracefully falls back into place. If this track has taught us anything, it’s that Lana is becoming a far more versatile vocalist and this is perhaps been unlocked by Auerbach and his production.

Image from popdust.com

Single Review – Lana Del Rey – West Coast

Lana Del Rey has returned in the run up to her Ultraviolence LP which is set for a June 2nd release, which could prove to be perfect timing for her to take advantage of the summer sound for 2014. Her third album is produced by The Black Key’s Dan Auberach which is a smart move as he’s successfully produced a few groups now as well as co producing The Black Keys albums. Perhaps the main gain is that it is just one producer and not the multitude she had for Born To Die. It was an album that fell down as some songs were produced far better than others and this is a problem she won’t have this time around and it will only be a good thing for her. ‘West Coast is the first single off Ultraviolence and the progression is evident from the off. The sleek, streamlined sound is given life by the oscillating sounds and the refined melodic riffs feeding off it. It generates a fluid sound that changes shape for the chorus and just as easily slip backs into the verses. On top of this, it is intertwined with what is Lana’s more tuneful and haunting vocal that is spread finely to filter back into the sounds while the main body of her vocal sweeps over verse and chorus and the songs dynamic structure showcases just what she can do as a vocalist. To see the advancement of this track alone against her last album is pretty damn exciting and more than I expected. It’s brilliant to be proved wrong and I hope the fundamentals of this track are carried on through to the rest of the album.

Image from popdust.com