Lana Del Rey's 'Born to Die': What the Critics Are Saying

 Nicole Nodland

The mainstream public got their first taste of newcomer Lana Del Rey when she performed on Saturday Night Live earlier this month and received a general panning from the show’s audience.

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Surely, the leveling she took from viewers and celebrities alike after SNL – even NBC anchor Brian Williams took a shot at the singer – aren’t able to kill a career. In fact, the singer seems to think it all means that she should re-release her earlier album, as well. But, really the music should speak for itself.

Del Rey releases her new album, Born to Die (Interscope Records), on Tuesday. And THR looked to the early reviews to see how the album is faring among the critics – and it isn’t doing well.

Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot opens up his write-up of the album by describing it as “ho-hum.” Yet, he gives the 24-year-old points for having a unique sound.

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“Though she’s not a particularly strong singer,” Kot writes. “Del Rey is at least distinctive; her unhurried style sounds nothing like the countless femme fatales with brassier voices and personalities clogging the charts.”

But, in the end he finishes his review unimpressed. “After all the hub-bub of recent weeks, one of [Peggy] Lee’s greatest songs sums up Del Rey’s grand entrance: “Is That All There Is?”

Los Angeles Times critic Randall Roberts found the album unconvincing after all the hype. “One of the great pop music mysteries of the past year is exactly how a young fiction called Lana Del Rey, whose music has an odd retro-futuristic vibe woven through it, moved from nowheresville to SNL," he writes. "And how Born to Die… landed at the top of the year's most anticipated release pile.”

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Like Kot, Roberts sees some promise in the recordings, which he describes as “an impressive gambit that worked magnificently by one measure -- buzz and maybe even first-week sales -- but that ultimately rings hollow because of a weak performance by the actor/singer.”

Boston Globe’s James Reed admits to being an early fan of the singer after hearing her song, “Video Games,” last summer. But, the tide turned for the critic after hearing Born to Die, which he believes didn’t live up to the singer’s earlier promise.

Born to Die… is a staggering disappointment,” Reed writes. “After a long, sweet drag on “Video Games,’’ her major-label debut feels like the sputtering cough that inevitably burns your lungs. Even with the deluxe version’s 15 songs, it’s more of a sketch than a statement.”

In many ways, the critic believes the apparently rushed album is premature. “The arrangements are paper-thin - recycled paper, no less. The most grating stuff here, “Lolita,’’ “Lucky Ones,’’ “Off to the Races,’’ sounds like filler Lady Gaga left in the trash bin,” he writes. “Worst of all, sorely missing is the self-possession that made Del Rey so alluring on “Video Games.’’ '

Will you be giving Born to Die a spin? Tell us in the comments section below.

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