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Lana Del Rey: Ultraviolence
Who can resist Lana Del Rey's free-spirited vibes? Her particular brand of chart-friendly baroque pop has topped the charts, been featured in movies and played all over radio stations around the world. She's become a sensation in next to no time and Cairene music lovers can't get enough of her.
The reluctant princess of the modern pop scene released her third studio album this summer and it is, in a nutshell, a true ode to her unique sound. The album kicks off with 'Cruel World'; a laidback track showcasing Del Rey's raspy vocals telling the tale of a broken romance with an edge. The song sets off the mood for the whole album, which generally carries on with a rather melancholic and nostalgic theme.
'Ultraviolence' and 'Shades of Cool' follow in similar style with Del Rey's trademark soft murmurs and slow beat, while Del Rey's love affair with New York once again inspires, with 'Brooklyn Baby'.
'West Coast', released as a single, stands out and breaks the pattern with a more upbeat vibe to it, Del Rey competing to keep up with a noticeably faster drumming action. It also signals a slight break from the heavy melancholy and imagery; the album goes onto, by and large, talk more plainly about a deeply dysfunctional relationship or two – or, well, a dozen – from all angles; long distance relationships, cheating, abuse – you name it. The lyrics get even more graphic and strong in "F*cked My Way Up to the Top', with Del Rey not holding back and unapologetically mewing "this is my show."
The album comes to an end with 'Old Money' which may remind some of Del Rey's contribution to soundtrack of The Great Gatsby, 'Young & Beautiful'. The song seems to hint at another day and age; another time of aristocratic summer nights and indulgent clothing; a Jay Gatsby party perhaps?
Ultraviolence collectively sounds as the shadowing, rather than the continuation, of previous album, Born to Die. The subjects she explores are the same and even imagery and references used are rather familiar – her "red dress", for example. But the distinctive flavour she adds to today's music scene is certainly something that will keep her relevant.
Does anything on Ultraviolence measure up to early hits like 'Video Games'? No, not quite.
Just ask Guns ‘n Roses’ Axl Rose or try and listen to any recent Korn album without cringing. Many bands quit (R.E.M., Sonic Youth), others tone down their sound (Metallica) and some keep regurgitating what they’ve been doing for decades (The Rolling Stones).
Kim Thayil’s guitar traditionally wails around on the dissonant side of the spectrum and singer Chris Cornell still deals out high-pitched screeches like a rock version of Celine Dion – but they have audibly matured. And considering that the grunge kids of two decades ago have aged with them, many will appreciate this more grown-up, adult sound.
After 52 minutes, one question remains: now that Soundgarden seems to have arrived at their definitive sound, will they become one of those established bands that don’t evolve anymore? Like fellow Seattle-ites Pearl Jam, or grandfathers of rock Aerosmith, for example. Or will they continue to develop their sound, like Muse or Radiohead?
Perennial chart-toppers and masterminds behind hit singles like Moves like Jagger, Payphone and One More Night, Maroon 5, are back after a two year hiatus – and expectations are high.
Maps, which was released earlier this years as a single, opens the bands fifth studio album, V, with an upbeat vibe and Levine’s and quite clearly auto-tuned, yet amiable all the same, vocals. The song, just like most of the other songs on the album, is, in classic Maroon 5 fashion; it’s extremely catchy and will almost inevitabely turn into a long-ter, guilty pleasure.
The following track, 'Animals', is somewhat inconspicuous but for Levine’s peculiur howling – literally like an animal – towards the end. Things taka a romantic turn with 'It Was Always You', though the mixture of fast and slow beats and the fact that it largely manages to stay away from clichéd sentiments and cheesy lyrics make it one of the album’s standout tracks.
V then momentarily calms down with the soulful 'Unkiss Me' and then speeds up again with 70’s-inpired chorus of 'Sugar'. Hands-in-the-air, festival-appropriate ballad, 'Leaving California', follows and puts Levine’s high-pitched vocals on full display.
It wouldn’t be a Maroon 5 album without a song about a cheating significant other and 'In Your Pocket' satisfies what has almost become the band’s trademark subject of choice.
From there on, the album takes a turn for the worse, down the boring bubble-gum-pop lane. With themes like demanding a lover’s forgiveness if he ever does her wrong, crooning about getting back to a lover soon and urging a girl to leave other guys and find her way to him in 'Feelings'.
The album, thankfully, ends on a more musically mature note with a touching duet with Gwen Stefani. Piano notes dominate the beat of ‘My Heart is Open’ as Levine and Stefani’s vocals complement each other perfectly.
Ultimately, V is quite indistinguishable from the band’s fourth release, Overexposed. It’s an album that pushes the band further away from the intangible essence that won them so many fans back in 2002 with the release of debut album, Songs About Jane, towards the oblivion of the teen-spirited music they have produce as of late.