Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #40 - Lana del Ray, "Born To Die"

Also going to have my 0.03 Euro's worth: I don't see why not. I keep throwing LDR up in relief to Gaga: they're both statuesque in a refrigerated way. But I've literally more time for LDR. And not just because she has a name like an airport.

A long argument between poorly-matched lovers. A shadow of hip hop, the version that slinks around in the background of Bond movies. This is going to soundtrack a lot of relationships, one side of the battle at a time. Damage, damage.

Nothing says distant princess like a harp, does it? "Video Games" has been written about a whole bunch already; but when she sings "It's all for you" I get the uncomfortable feeling of a Daddy complex. Maybe it's the All American flavour of the cover artwork I've come across so far. That's some patriarchy they got over there. Laura Palmer's biographical mixtape - and that David Lynch seems to crop up quite a bit.

Interesting counterpart to the last album I was listening to - Francois & The Atlas Mountains. Also about love and romance. But the gush is a lot warmer for Francois. "Diet Mountain Dew" (America again!) is cold; a nagging "Do you think we'll be in love forever" refrain turns into a "You're no good for me/But baby, I want you". A far darker drama. When the next tune "National Anthem" kicks off with "I'm your National Anthem/God, you're so handsome" I start to get the idea that the dark love in this film is the United States itself. That's how deep I am, you see?

Either way, love and destruction are cosy and Freudian in bed together, all Morecambe & Wise like.  I'm about halfway through and I haven't heard a song that doesn't include love and death in the lyrics. And I'm sorry to treat this album like an A-Level text, but a song like "This Is What Makes Us Girls" is (if you'll pardon the phrase) asking for it. It sketches out a dire, doomed idea of girlhood, which a big classy string section isn't going to do much to brighten.

"I can be a china doll/If you want to see me fall."

A problem has arisen from the back of my mind. Her gellid vocals and the statuesque production put considerable beef behind this image of "the dark side of the American dream" - big glamorous money backing this half-dead, fatalistic version of humanity and peddling it to half the population. I mean "Lolita"?! Jesus! It's all about big, rich daddy America and how best the little ladies out there can suck up to it and dress up the negation of themselves as glamour and tragedy.

So this would make this one long, orchestral treatise on the cold, heartless pain of being a young American woman then? I'm tempted to know how much LDR is conjuring this up apart from herself, or whether she sees herself drowning in the same icy rivers. It's alluring to imagine the inner numbness will build to envelop you completely and keep you perpetually preserved.

And it sounds pretty cool.

Rating: Ice Floes out of Upper America

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