The biggest question in approaching Lana Del Rey's debut EP is whether or not the huge buzz surrounding this 25 year old singer-songwriter is really validated by the music itself. After listening closely to all four songs, the conclusion is that the sound of Lana Del Rey is certainly arresting, but she has not yet shown indications that she is the equivalent of the second coming in pop musicians. The similarity in style among three of the songs here does raise concerns that it could be difficult to maintain interest across a full-length album.
Creepy, Apocalyptic Drama In Song
It is only three weeks before we will see Lana Del Rey's full-length album Born To Die. However, the interest is so strong and a Saturday Night Live appearance will only ratchet it further, so it makes sense to drop a mini-collection early. What catches listeners so quickly about Lana Del Rey's music is the air of apocalyptic doom in the music coupled with a creepy detached sound to her voice. If David Lynch were looking for soundtrack music today for his TV series Twin Peaks, Lana Del Rey would be a frontrunner. Unfortunately, even listening to "Video Games" and "Born To Die" back to back, your attention might wane a bit at the flat sense of grey doom.
Palpable Sense Of Mystery
Despite the same sound, there is a real sense of mystery here. Lana Del Rey generates some of the mystery personally in being very selective in revealing details about herself. Those chimes and strummed harp at the opening of "Video Games," drum machines and minimalist electronic effects in "Born To Die," and the heartbeat beat structure of "Blue Jeans" all give a mysterious musical setting for Lana Del Rey's voice to wander across spinning her dramatic word pictures.
After the singles "Video Games" and "Born To Die," the songs "Blue Jeans" and "Off To the Races" add some variety to the music here. "Blue Jeans" has a heavier, rock-oriented swagger in opposition to the languor of "Video Games." "Off To the Races" is the most unique of the songs here and is almost electropop in style. If Lana Del Rey explores this direction more on the Born To Die album, it will be refreshing.
Track List For 'Lana Del Rey EP'
- "Video Games"
- "Born To Die"
- "Blue Jeans"
- "Off To the Races"
Are we watching the debut of a powerful, enduring talent? Or is this simply a flash in the pan equivalent to a musical fad? It is very difficult to tell from the four songs here. There is no disputing that the drama of "Video Games" can stop most pop music fans in their tracks for a moment or two. However, significantly more variety will be necessary to see Lana Del Rey as an artist around for the long term. Born To Die is the most eagerly awaited new pop album for early in 2012. We will be further along in answering these questions once we have a full set of songs to listen to and evaluate.
Released January 2012 by Interscope