Put Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge of Seventeen’ on a slow motion horseback gallop through the set of a spaghetti western and you’ve got ‘West Coast’, the first single from Lana Del Rey’s much-anticipated second album. Having named the record ‘Ultraviolence’, you’d be forgiven for expecting Clockwork Orange malevolence and grand orchestral rumbles, a la Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian film classic. Instead, the LA’s singer’s return is a breathy, hip-moving blues grind. It’s full of echoing Stratocaster guitars that find darkness under the sun-kissed surface of America’s most glamorous region and dirt under the carefully manicured nails of Hollywood’s “silver harlots and queens of Saigon.”
Produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, whose presence is felt via gritty licks and crunchy percussion, it’s less retro-minded than the sepia-hued sounds of her 2012 debut. The disappointing onepacedness of that record, followed by a high profile fashion modelling campaign, suggested Lana may not have much more in her locker than the faded film star schtick of her early breakout hits, but ‘West Coast’ suggests otherwise. “Down on the West Coast, they love their movies/their golden loving/rock ‘n’ roll groupies,” sings Lana over a slow-burn bass line, with even sharper an iconoclastic bite than the one that made ‘Video Games’ a global smash. ‘West Coast’ doesn’t pack quite the same emotionally bruising punch as that song, but it comes close: its chorus is a festival singalong in waiting, without seeming obvious or cloying.
Lana’s taken her time with album number two – there have been reports a new record may never happen, old songs falsely identified as new ones and a strange WTF-athon Derek Jarman-meets-Larry Clark art film en route to this point. If ‘West Coast’ is anything to go on, ‘Ultraviolence’ should prove worth the wait.