New Release (Interscope)
Lana Del Rey’s CD debut does nothing to dispel the impression created by her notorious Saturday Night Live appearance — namely, that she can’t sing a lick. Unlike on SNL, the vocals here are cool, languid, and on key, but they’re also so obviously tweaked and tuned in the studio that there probably isn’t an actual vocal performance anywhere on the album. Does it matter? Yes and no. Wearing its calculation on its sleeve, the album is a small masterpiece of image making: Del Rey is meant to be a bad girl (so bad that she can steal her album title from Grand Funk!), pondering her wasted life over retro-hip, bachelor-pad pop. The lyrics aim for shock value at every turn, though nothing’s more outlandish than her claim (on “This is What Makes Us Girls”) that she ever drank iced PBR. “Video Games” remains a strong single and it all feels like good illicit fun, but would’ve been more so with a real singer.
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