Lana Del Rey Explores the “West Coast”

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Lana Del Rey has returned with the debut of “West Coast”, the first single off her upcoming album, Ultraviolence.  “West Coast” offers a glimpse of Lana’s recent collaboration with producer and The Black Keys frontman, Dan Auerbach.  While the song features Lana’s characteristic wanderlust for past eras and classic Hollywood glamour, “West Coast” marks a change in style for the singer.  Lana’s voice captures darker tones over intense drum beats, distancing herself from her Born to Die ballads.  Fans raved about Lana’s Coachella set on April 13th which included her first live performance of “West Coast” among Born to Die and Paradise favorites like her breakout radio hit, “Summertime Sadness”.

As a longtime Lana fan, I am personally conflicted about “West Coast” and what its sound means for the direction of her soon to be released album.  “West Coast” shows a loss of the melodic lyricism and strategic phrasing that made Lana’s music fluid and intentionally witty.  The sound is representative of a Dan Auerbach production: rhythmic and rock-driven.  I strongly approve of the collaboration and its ability to move Lana’s music in a different instrumental direction.  However, Lana’s voice is overshadowed in the process.  “West Coast” has low, mumbling vocals that, while entrancing, lack the well-defined sound of Lana’s previous vocal performances.  The lyrics seem almost cliché: “You’ve got the music in you” pales in comparison to her previous descriptions of love.  While I respect and understand her desire for reinvention, I hope the classic Lana image is not lost forever.

Despite my obvious issues with Lana’s most recent release, I have been continuously listening to “West Coast” in an attempt to unlock the secret to Lana’s transformed musical style.  Ultraviolence is set to drop in May but until then the future of Lana Del Rey’s sound remains a mystery.