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Lana Del Rey

Ultraviolence (Interscope)

Reviewed by Neph Basedow, Fri., Aug. 1, 2014

Phases & Stages

For every part "idiot" that her image projects – the put-on pout, that doubtful persona – Lana Del Rey's equal parts savant. The dichotomy makes songstress Elizabeth Grant hard to peg. Ultraviolence marks the Angeleno's third album in four years, produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach into dark, lush gloom-pop. The heiress-turned-songwriter spins tragic tales that further an intrigue somehow only mounting, yet they're just dubious enough to keep any artistic credibility at a cautious arm's length and thus perpetuate her core polarity. A recovering alcoholic since 15, Del Rey, now 29, isn't afraid to cannonball into the dark and taboo, warningly forthright from the get-go. Opener "Cruel World" acknowledges the controversy: "Everybody knows that I'm a mess, I'm crazy." In "Sad Girl," she recounts "being a mistress on the side," while the tongue-in-cheek "Fucked My Way to the Top" speaks for itself. Ultimately, it's this brazenness that makes Lana Del Rey appear humanly vulnerable, and more importantly, creatively viable.

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