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Album review: Lana Del Rey’s ‘Ultraviolence’

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Smith Galtney
Three and a half stars

Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence

This woman sure knows how to get the Internet’s panties in a twist. There are two ways you can approach Lana Del Rey: 1. as a confessional singer-songwriter who sings really melodramatic songs about herself, or 2. as a still-growing performer who likes to dress up and sing about a fried-out, fictionalized alter ego, not unlike a Tom Waits in training wheels. I’m in the latter camp, simply because I refuse to believe that anyone who starts an album by singing “With my little red party dress on/Everybody knows I’m the best, I’m crazy” isn’t camping it up slightly. As the follow-up to Born to Die, her wildly uneven 2012 debut, Ultraviolence ditches the rapping (yay!) for an even slower, moodier, murkier sound. (Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys produced about half the tracks.) Self-conscious hipsters won’t like the way Del Rey coos “I’ve got feathers in my hair, I get down to Beat poetry” in “Brooklyn Baby.” But that’s because her shtick hits too close to home. And it is shtick. By album’s end, she’s all but perched under a white-hot spotlight, singing out torchy show tunes full of irresistible lies.

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  • The singer-songwriter performs at Caesars' Colosseum January 13 and 14.

  • The record, out physically this week, finds the two men once again expertly meshing their styles.

  • Harsh textures are (mostly) eschewed for languid synth-pop, an ambient glaze and gentle individual elements.

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