You remember that meme from a couple years back about how everything seems more epic when it's set to Sigur Rós music? That's a pretty nice way of summing up how I feel about Lana Del Rey's Born to Die album, which leaked Tuesday (January 24) and which you may very well be listening to on your computer/ mobile device at this very moment.
Simply put, it is a record that is positively brimming with atmospherics — soaring, sonorous strings, echoing electronic boom-bap, morose, maudlin guitar crescendos — all of which imbue it with a truly epic (if not unnecessarily dramatic) scope. [artist id="4067329"]Del Rey[/artist]'s critics will undoubtedly point out that scope as nothing more than cover for her perceived shortcomings as a performer, but it still makes Born to Die a rather thrilling headphones experience. This is an album that sounds like it cost a million bucks to make — mostly because it probably did.
This is not to say that Born to Die is a bad album — far from it. In fact, it's certainly w-a-a-y better than most would've expected (tellingly, even less will admit to that fact), and Del Rey does showcase some rather deft songwriting prowess — or at least a knack for penning a catchy chorus — particularly on the album's few bright moments, like "Off to the Races," "Diet MTN Dew" and "Radio."
The majority of the tracks you've already heard — "Born to Die," "Blue Jeans," "Video Games" — are prominently placed at the front of the album, and the back half does tend to drag a bit, though, aside from all the additional ephemera (which does leave the album sounding a bit same-y, not to mention cribbed from the Portishead playbook, circa 1997), those are perhaps my biggest criticisms about the album.
Other folks, of course, may have a different opinion. The biggest dart fired at Del Rey seems to be her perceived lack of authenticity, and it's admittedly difficult not to think of criticism like that when she's cooing lines like "Every time I close my eyes/ It's like a dark paradise." Particularly on an album where she spends so much time singing about material excesses (top-shelf booze, glimmering swimming pools, fashion, etc.). Still, no matter how you view her, you've got to give Del Rey and her team credit for creating an album that fills the room and the headphones. Regardless of how they got to this point, it's been a pretty compelling thing to watch come together.
Have you checked out Lana Del Rey's debut album yet? Share your thoughts in the comments!