Lana Del Rey walks the tightrope

But is straddling annoying and boring really an accomplishment?

June 17, 2014

No one can be surprised that the grand construct of Lizzy Grant’s career, the self-abusing, retro-minded, anti-empowerment femme fatale better known as Lana Del Rey, is decidedly not a woman of her word. “I don’t think I’ll write another record,” she said in 2012 after the release of her second effort Born to Die. “I feel like everything I wanted to say, I said already.” Yet here she is again, saying more of the same “I’m a bad girl who likes bad boys and gets hurt bad” crap that didn’t really need to be said last time, and smirking about the backlash to the backlash that greeted her much-debated breakthrough by simultaneously mocking and kissing up to the crowd that inexplicably embraces her tired act.

“And my boyfriend’s in the band/He plays guitar while I sing Lou Reed/I’ve got feathers in my hair/I get high on hydroponic weed/And my jazz collection’s rare/I get down to beat poetry/I’m a Brooklyn baby/I’m a Brooklyn baby,” she trills in a chorus to the song of that name, while anyone with half a brain retches.

Mostly, though, Del Rey is just a bore. Working with producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, she falls even shorter of her stated goal of creating the postmodern “gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” eschewing the hints of hip-hop we got last time for a straighter mix of early ’50s cocktail lounge schmaltz and echoes of spaghetti Western ambience. If anything, this is made even less enticing than it sounds by virtue of the fact that she (still) cannot sing, as is made glaringly obvious by ponderous and lumbering chanteuse showcases such as “Pretty When I Cry,” “Money Power Glory,” “Old Money,” “Black Beauty,” and the (allegedly) ironic “F---ed My Way Up to the Top.”

Lord almighty, musically, lyrically, attitudinally, and just about every other way you can name, this is why we need Le Butcherettes, Tweens, Lydia Loveless and Angel Olsen, and Savages, to name just a few of the real recent femme fatales who put dear Lizzy to shame by not only promising but actually delivering a little of the ol’ ultraviolence.

Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence (Interscope)

Rating on the four-star scale: .5 stars.

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