Lana Del Rey's debut Born To Die was confounding indie critics long before its release, simply by being unapologetically pop. Lead single "Video Games" set up an intriguing, troublesome character—a passive, objectified girlfriend with outsized romantic daydreams and facile notions of "old Hollywood" glamour and noir—but Del Rey's drawling delivery sold it. That song's persona, its sedative languor and sweeping strings inform much of Born to Die's ballads, but so do moody hip-hop beats and distorted background shouts that recall, among other things, Kanye West's "Runaway." Better still are the more sprightly and playfully knowing pop moments of "Off to the Races, "Diet Mountain Dew," "Radio" and "National Anthem," where Del Rey almost breaks into a rap cadence. Of course Lana Del Rey is a put-on, but it's not an unpromising act.
Eric Grandy, Google Play