Ahoy, fellas! Since I’m waiting with bated breath for the final episode of season 4 of Game of Thrones, I realised I was really looking forward to the terrible violence that will ensue. You could say I wanted violence beyond violence. Ah, you could say I want some… Ultraviolence?
My editor, knowing full well that I have “a thing” for Lizzie Grant, aka the yang to Lana Del Rey‘s yin (not ying), managed to get his pal Rollo Tomasi to send him a reviewer’s copy of this album because fuck trying to get it from the label. So, grab a peppermint chamomile tea and read my in depth gushing of the new Lana Del Rey joint.
Oh, and spoilers… A RANT:
I never got the hate for Lana Del Rey, especially that silly argument about not using her “real” name. Yeah, because Bob Dylan was born with that name, right? Or even worse arguments, like the nepotism argument. Well, shit, I’m sure it’s the only case in the ENTIRE history of the music industry. No siree bob, there’s NO nepotism except her case and her case only. /Sarcasm
Shit, this is why I stopped doing music reviews.
Anyways, gone is the lush & swanky instrumentations that painted Born to Die a golden hue of California sunsets. The darker undertones that you felt were creeping underwater like some motherflipping shark have surfaced now. Ultraviolence is landshark territory and we should be wary of girls with Lana‘s looks and promises of Candygram.
‘Cruel World’ is in the recent trend of long-ass opening songs that clock nearly 7 minutes. The stark minimalist tones complement the vocal’s dread-filled delivery until we get a mix of 90s trip hop. See The Black Keys‘ ‘The Weight of Love’ & James‘ ‘Walk like you’ recent albums for killer opening tracks.
The song ‘Ultraviolence’ is the high class gin and tonic of this collection. Again, some trip hop and lush musical arrangements make this song like the ghostly afterimages of a ballroom dance in now derelict palace. You know something great once happened here, but time and tide wait for no one and all things must fall. This mournful track catches that lingering sadness you get from abandoned buildings.
Did you like Pierce Brosnan‘s stint as James Bond? I enjoyed muchly 3 out of his 4 movies and ‘Shades of Cool’ immediately warped my mind, reliving the memories of the elegant opening songs His Brosnan-ness had. Fuck that KGB-looking Craig, Brosnan was the last classy Bond and ‘Shades of Cool’ floaty chamber goth pop syncs perfectly with the opening of Tomorrow Never Dies . This is contrasted heavily with the relatively cheery ‘Brooklyn Baby’, which feels like a chance to avoid the downbeat vocals for something more grandiloquent. Like Pierce Brosnan‘s good looks.
‘West Coast’… everything has been written, analysed and posted about this but I’ll add my pair of rusty caged pennies to this: it’s bait and switch and I love it for this. It starts like a jolly ol’ frollicking day at the beach, until you get pulled into the ocean by the waves and the riptide pulls you farther and farther. What do you do? Swim parallel to the beach until you can approach is the general advise but in Lana Del Rey‘s downbeat universe, you accept your fate and slowly sink into the cold arms of Davy Jones’ locker. Don’t worry, Davy has discarded the smelly Reebok hi-tops.
Ever heard Pale 3‘s soundtrack for The Princess and The Warrior? ‘Sad Girl’ & ‘Pretty when you cry’ gave me a flashback to that soundtrack and equally convey that “you have no control over your destiny” gloominess. There’s a moment of desperation in ‘Pretty when you cry’ that feels like an opening a book with a fancy cover and then realising you opened some eldritch horror’s diary.
‘Fucked my way to the top’, uh… it’s certainly an explosive one but I no longer know if she’s just playing along with the whole personality and pisstaking the critics of Her Reyness’ hype (via 2011) . I like the song for what it is and I honestly think this is all part of the “Lana del Rey” character and Ms. Grant is just playing the part as much as Tom Waits plays the hobo part that complements his showmanship. Just food for thought.
In fact, I do believe this is a concept album about a pop artists called Lana Del Rey, performed by Lizzie Grant under the Lana Del Rey name. Because if you have a character and a storyline, why the fuck not go the full monty? It fits with the recent interviews. ANYWAYS, I’m high on coffee and I just realised that ‘Old Money’ samples that mournful Nino Rota composition for Zeffirelli‘s Romeo & Juliet. It’s a particular highlight of this album which clearly keeps stomping the message: YOU CAN’T CONTROL FATE.
Which is the concept of the album. Heck, fate once found my love in a glass of champagne. Ultraviolence ends with a cover of Jessie Mae Robinson‘s ‘The Other Woman’ and it’s a mournful cover. Oh, and it’s the second link I’ll do to a Jeff Buckley song, just so you can compare versions and choose your fave. I love ’em both.
Now, if you go and buy the deluxe edition, you are treated to 3 extra tracks, of which ‘Black Beauty’ is the clear winner. You could say that the dark horse won. Whoa, sorry.
Final thoughts? Well, I think Ultraviolence fits quite well with the recent output of the lovely Charlotte Church. There’s very dark moments through most of both singers’ music and the tip of the hat to trip hop is always a welcomed encomium to the recent barrage of overprocessed r’n’b, which although I enjoy muchly, sometimes you need the slower grooves. Think of it as the stout ale you chase a whiskey shot with and we are in the same sine wave.
Words: Orestes P. Coltrane Xistos