Saturday, November 10, 2012

Paradise | Lana Del Rey

Rating: ★★★★★

This is a review of the eight-track Paradise EP. I have already reviewed Lana Del Rey's Born to Die, which you can read here.

When Lana Del Rey released her debut album, Born To Die, earlier this year, I instantly fell in love with her. So when I found out that she was releasing another new album a few months ago, I began to anxiously await for its arrival, and after spending the past month regularly listening to the leaked snippets of the songs off of Paradise, I finally have had the opportunity to listen to the album.

The first track of the album, "Ride," also served as the first single for the album. I gave a very brief review of the song and its accompanying video a while back, and you can read it here. The songwriting in "Ride" is beautiful. The lyrics can take multiple different meanings from listeners. The chorus of the song leads me to believe that the song is about not knowing what decisions to make in life and ignoring mistakes. But then again, the first verse of the song makes me want to believe that the song covers unstable relationships. Either way, the song is astonishing and did better on the charts than I expected. "Ride" has reached the #30 spot on the Billboard Rock Songs chart, and it is actually the first of Lana's singles to even chart in the United States since her debut single "Video Games" in 2011.

"Cola," which was tentatively named "Pussy" for a while before the title was censored, is clearly a very controversial song due to its lyrical content. Many critics have stamped the song as lazy and claimed that it lacked creativity. I, for one, beg to differ. These critics made a premature judgement due to the opening lyrics, "My pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola/My eyes are wide like cherry pies," but there's so much more to the song. Judging by the rest of the lyrics, I'm taking an assumption that overall, the song is about a woman cheating on a relationship, specifically with an older man. I love the song's seductive sound, and of course, I always like a little controversy.

"Body Electric" allows Lana to slide from note to note simply for effect, and when she sings it live, it can actually sound pretty demented. The lyrics of the song, some of which were inspired by a poem written by Walt Whitman in 1855 called "I Sing The Body Electric," are metaphoric and edgy, and furthermore, it has a riveting chorus that cannot be matched by any other Lana Del Rey song. The chorus features the repetition of the line "I sing the body electric," while a combination of drums, guitars and strings make up the instrumental backing track. This song is the best song on the album, as many fans may agree.

Continuing on, "Gods & Monsters" was another track that I thoroughly enjoyed. The song is slower and also carries a combination of strings and drums in its instrumental track, just as "Body Electric" did. The lyrical content of the song is quite shocking. From lines like "In the land of gods and monsters/I was an angel/Living in the garden of evil," to "Me and God, we don't get along/So now I sing," the song is a lyrical masterpiece, and could easily spark some more controversy with the latter line.

One of the final songs on the album, "Yayo," was not actually written for Paradise. A version of the song was originally recorded for one of Lana's first independent albums, Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant. However, the record was released under an independent label and failed miserably, so Lana bought back the rights to the album and ceased sales of it. But, she decided to resurrect and re-record "Yayo" for Paradise. The song's title is slang for cocaine: something that Lana references in her work frequently. It's a very calm and dreary song, but the song is about a cocaine addiction, so the style fits the lyrics very well.

Despite how amazing Paradise is, major Lana Del Rey fans have somehow found things to complain about, with many of them targeting "Yayo" Many arguments included comparisons to the version for "Yayo" that was included on Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant. I've heard both versions of the song, and they aren't all that different. The only major differences I can distinguish between the two recordings are a few note changes and the major reverberation in the vocals of the Paradise rendition of "Yayo." The note changes really aren't a huge deal, but the reverberation on Lana's vocals doesn't sound too great. To be completely honest, I do prefer the original recording of "Yayo" over the one on Paradise, but for people who haven't heard Lana's older work, it's a nice little glimpse to what Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant sounds like.

"Body Electric" was also slaughtered by fans. Personally, I think "Body Electric" is completely flawless, but most of the comments I have seen from fans on multiple forums and websites have said that they  prefer the live version of the song rather than the studio version. In actuality, the studio version of the song is of higher quality than the live version, considering the epic instrumentation and the fact that the vocals actually sound nice and strong in the studio version. I know it sounds a bit harsh, but it's obviously true that Lana sounds much better in the studio than singing live.

Overall, Paradise exceeded my expectations in every aspect.  The songwriting was outstanding and the production of the album was far superior to that of Born To Die. It seemed like almost all of the songs were stand-outs on the album, making this Lana Del Rey's strongest release to date. Although some pessimistic fans might try to drag the album down with petty comparisons, those comments shouldn't compel anyone from picking up this album. Paradise has easily become my favorite release of this year, and one of my favorite albums of all time.

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