Given the hyped nature of her arrival just over a year ago and the, often vicious, backlash, it might have been a natural assumption that Lana Del Rey is not an artist built to last. Add a patchy debut album to the mix and those who have found her such an annoyance were probably feeling safe in the knowledge that Lizzy Grant wouldn’t be troubling us in 2013. Think again. Tickets for her live dates have been flying out the door (despite all the suggestions that the stage is really not her natural habitat) and now she ends the year as she began it, with a new release. Packaged as a stand alone mini-album or as part of that old music industry favourite, the deluxe version of January’s Born To Die, Paradise offers an opportunity to see where Del Rey plans to go next.
The answer turns out to be nowhere new. The eight tracks on offer are clearly from a similar place as her debut, even down to the mixture of the inspired and the less than engaging. Of the former, the superb ‘Ride’, ‘American’ and hip-hop tinged ‘Gods And Monsters’ are high on drama and musical dimensions, proof that her combination of vintage and modern styles still has legs, for the moment at any rate – although the less said about her insipid version of ‘Blue Velvet’ the better.
The real problem with Paradise, however, is Del Rey herself. Much (too much, to be fair), has been made of the real / fake nature of the singer but if – as you suspect – Del Rey is more of a character for Grant to hide behind, here she is starting to sound trapped by her creation. The profanities and sexual references that litter the record (“My pussy tastes like Cola”, “I was an angel looking to get fucked hard”) come across as empty, attention seeking gestures as opposed to genuine emotion and, although she attempts to play the role of seductress on numerous occasions, the results are hardly arousing.
So what we have then is a half decent record, including some very good moments, delivered by a singer with a deep desire to be seen as an enigma wrapped up in a riddle but who just ends up sounding disinterested most of the time. Sound familiar? Twelve months can be a long time in the music business but for Lizzy Grant, it seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. With Paradise she’s bought herself more time but at some point you wish that the real Lana Del Rey would stand up and be counted.