Lana Del Rey

Rating: NNNN

Lana Del Rey’s 2012 debut LP, Born To Die, was too unfocused to live up to the high expectations generated by the enigmatic power of songs like Video Games and Blue Jeans. Now Del Rey has answered those diminished hopes with a consistently strong album, proving her initial appeal was more than just the result of clever marketing.

This time, her strangely aloof detachment works much better with her atmospheric ballads than it did on her debut.

Ultraviolence makes far better use of her notorious “artificiality,” too, milking both self-conscious theatricality and deadpan cynicism to concoct startlingly real characters and narratives. She still writes lines that make you laugh, but they don’t interfere with the songs’ menacing underlying qualities. Dan Auerbach’s production helps shape that drama, but he’s accurately interpreting her vision rather than directing Del Rey, who suddenly seems completely in control of her brand.

Top track: Old Moneys

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