That gauzy, David Lynchian epic ‘Video Games’ was a strange beast. Coming out of nowhere, we fell in love with its fragile, surreal, 50’s-soap opera beauty and generally the way it seemed to arrive like a timeless, fully-formed ball of sci-fi balladeering joy.
Things have changed so much for Lana Del Rey since that flicker turned into a whopping great forest fire of interest. There was the internet backlash against the singer, based on her past musical lives, her appearance and that hoary old chestnut “is she for real or what?”. So, is this particular jig up? Has the mystique disappeared or does she deliver something that makes magic happen a second time?
Well any follow-up was going to have a difficult job of matching up to ‘Video Games”s surprise factor, but ‘Born To Die’ is a more than worthy successor.
The lights are dimmed, the air is thick with smoke and the whisky is amber coloured. Del Rey’s still there staring out at the misty, murky horizon line, surveying a love affair between two broken souls (“You like your girls insane,” she sings and confesses: “I was so confused as a little child,”) which might be doomed eternally or the duo may find salvation in each other’s uneasy arms. Well, if they just keep their eyes closed for long enough, that is.
Del Rey uses pop-art too as she did in ‘Video Games’. Whether it’s the line about using fantasy to dull the pain (“I feel so alone on a Friday night/ Can you make it feel like home if I say you’re mine?“), the sampled voice (which sounds like the TV’s been left on in a seedy motel) or the strings which cup the track in a wave of Valium-piped fantasy.
The fatalistic chorus line is killer “You and I/We were born to die,” and key. Things are heading for a car crash, but the ride might be fun for a while at least.
‘Born To Die’ is a grower and whilst not as pitch perfect as ‘Video Games’, it’s pretty damn fine.