Usually, when I say I’ve been listening to an album ‘non-stop’, it means I’ve been listening it to a lot, but still listening to other music as well. This has changed since the release of Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence on June 14 (June 13 to those in the Northern Hemisphere!!), basically two months ago. And I have listened to nothing else. Literally.
So here it is: my track-by-track, loving review of Ultraviolence. (I have not included the bonus tracks, as I’ve only downloaded these slightly recently, and therefore don’t know them as well as the rest).
The opener of the album. Melodious, sad, ethereal sounding. The perfect pace for swinging your head from side to side, like in a trance (am I the only one that does that when listening to Lana??). Cruel World is probably the best song to open the album, as it uses the motif of her infamous ‘red party dress’ (as mentioned in Summertime Sadness, Carmen, Off to the Races and other songs), as well as being ‘young, wild and free’, which was a motif in the ending monologue of the Ride music video. (Y’know, ‘Lie fast.Die young. Be wild…I am free’
By using these, I was instantly drawn back into the world of Lanaland, mesmerized and ready to fully immerse myself in the rest of the album.
Wow. This is one of those songs that you need to learn all the lyrics too, just so you can sing along to it. This song, about Lana being in an abusive, hurtful relationship but continuing to love the man, nearly breaks my heart every time I hear it, ‘he hit me and it felt like a kiss’. I actually looked up this song and found out it was about a cult, led by the man ‘Jim’ (which explains the quite literal line in the bridge, ‘you’re my cult leader’). Lana said in Grazia interview “I used to be a member of an underground sect which was reigned by a guru. He surrounded himself with young girls. He thought that he had to break people first to build them up again. At the end I quit the sect.”. This meaning makes the song so much more impacting in my opinion, as it shows Lana as being slightly brainwashed with the love-hate of this destructive relationship (‘brainwashing’ being something cults are quite infamous for).
I also love the literary allusions in this song. In Clockwork Orange, it means random and/or horrible acts of violence. This is clearly the emotional and physical abuse Lana is feeling. By Jim calling her ‘poison ivy’ and ‘deadly nightshade’ it also shows the emotional abuse and brainwashing, by him making her think of herself as ‘evil’ and therefore deserving of what she gets. Basically, the more I listen to his song, and study this song, and analyse this song, the more amazed I am by it. One of my favourite songs of the album
Shades of Cool
Hmm…this isn’t one of my favourite songs, but I know that my opinion is quite an unpopular one. For all my friends, Shades of Cool is one of their favourite songs. However, we all agree the music video is atrocious. The effects…
It’s very James Bonds-y, and blues-y-ish. While it’s not my favourite, I still listen to it, and when I’m a particular mood, even enjoy it and listen to it on repeat. It might grow on me the more I listen to it, the way it is with some Lana songs.
A feel-good, sing-a-long, mostly cheery song that I love a lot. Apparently, it’s meant to be a cynical satire piece on the ‘cool kids’ in Brooklyn, mocking their ‘Beat poetry‘ and ‘hydroponic weed‘. Nevertheless, it’s got a good walking piece, and I like the little guitar riff throughout the song. I also am a huge fan of Barrie James O’Neill’s voice (Lana’s ex-boyfriend), so I like his contribution on the last chorus. Despite their voices being very different, they harmonize really well together. Apart from Florida Kilos, the most upbeat song of the album, and a fun one to listen too.
I love this song. I love the jarring, sudden changing in tempos, instrumental (the fast tempo verses being very drum-heavy, while the slow chorus is set against a prominent, repetitive bluesy guitar), and change in voice, from eager-sounding and slightly staccato to a long, heavy drawl. It’s a vintage ballad sound with a post-modern structure. Immersing to listen to, and a song that I can listen to over and over and over without getting bored of, because it has such an interesting and unique sound. I’m also a huge fan of the video, especially the parts with Lana in the car, looking stunning and smoking a cigarette.
Some Lana at it’s best. An Old Hollywood tortured and heartbroken lounge singer crying out her woes in the form of a melodious and entrancing track. This song best sums up Lana’s basis for her music – sadness and badness, “I’m a sad girl…I’m a bad girl”. She’s wild, she’s young, she’s free-spirited…and she’s broken. It’s also a flip of the bird for all the critics who criticize for these very traits, “watch what you say to me, careful who you’re talking too’.
Pretty When You Cry
Another song that makes me want to cry listening to it. The melody is smooth and dulcet, soothing to listen to. The lyrics are anything but…“I’ll wait for you, babe. It’s all I do, babe. Don’t come through, babe. You never do.” The bridge itself sums up the story of this song and indeed, of many Lana songs. Giving yourself to someone who doesn’t give back equally. The inflection-heavy singing is the result of a one-take track, “The way you heard it recorded is the way I freestyled it…Like the vocal inflection has its own narrative, it’s not all lyric drive, it’s just kind of moments in time that are meaningful to me left as they were, kind of untouched.”- Lana.
Money Power Glory
MONEY. POWER. GLOOOOOOOOOOOORY. ALL YOUR MONEY. YOUR POWER. AND GLOOOOOORRRRRYYYY!!!!! Probably my favourite song on the entire album, just for the absolute freedom and ecstatic feeling it gives me to scream alongside it. I don’t even know what else I can say about it without writing an entire essay and spilling out all my feelings and dreams. Basically: if you haven’t heard it yet, go listen to it immediately.
Fucked My Way Up To The Top
A blatant confrontation to everyone and anyone who’s ever accused Lana of doing this in her career. One thing I love about Lana is her satirical songs, and how I’m sure they just embarrass whoever they’re about. Apparently, this song is also “about a singer who first sneered about my allegedly not authentic style but later she stole and copied it.”-Lana. The most popular speculation is either Lady Gaga, or some say Lorde, which seems a bit funky to me. This song is also just ridiculously catchy and scandalous enough to be able to listen to other and other without getting tired of it.
Aw. Slower and more piano-based than some of the other tracks on Ultraviolence, and it offers such a lovely, sad, woeful contrast to the album, especially after FMWUTOTT. Weepy and doe-eyed sounding, yet also hopeful in the way PWYC was hopeless. A perfect song to listen to to up your mood, despite the slow melody and somber-sounding singing. In a word: romantic. (Despite it being based around money?? How does she even do that?)
The Other Woman
Nina Simone’s version is lovely. They’re both very different. Nina’s is more stripped down and simple, more upbeat than Lana’s layered, drawled version. Probably a much disputed opinion, but personally I enjoy Lana’s version more. In my opinion, it’s a song you have to actively sit down and listen to, to appreciate the lovely flowing melody and the sad lyrics, otherwise it can tend to sound similar to whining in a distracted pair of ears. A very nice song to end the album on, though, as it has a sort of ‘definite’ end.
So that’s it! My mostly musically un-educated, very Lana-loving biased review of her newest album Ultraviolence. If you guys like this, I’ll do another with the bonus tracks and some of my other face Lana songs. Or any other albums or artists you want.