Albums of the week

30.01.12 Words by: Charlie Jones

Album of the week // Lana Del Rey – ‘Born To Die’ [Polydor]


Lana Del Rey, ex-failed singer, the face that launched a thousand hits, and the woman behind one of the greatest songs of recent years. She has, I’m certain you don’t need me to tell you, shot from one-vid YouTube sensation to Proper Famous Pop Star in such dizzying time it leaves us feeling like extras in a future biopic. So, this week, after months of posts, we finally get to hear the album. In short, it’s one of the weirdest major label releases in years. It is also a great one, with capacity to tell the listener about how odd life now is, how nasty love has always been and even how it is possible to make pop music.

Her voice is inconsistent, and suffers from over-reach, but has the power to be absolutely flooring. The stretched state of over-reach, for fame, glamour, money and, more than anything else, love is a constant theme of ‘Born To Die’. Lyrics reference degenerate beauty queens, Lolita, the hot need for love and the cold drive for fame – it is genuinely uncomfortable in parts. The production, vast without being lush, glorious but sad, sounds like a version of radio friendly pop rather than radio friendly pop itself. Though Video Games is the undoubted highlight, all the tunes are absolutely wonderful. A thousand opinions have been expended on this fascinating artist, but for a second, it’s worth dropping the critical capacity, and listening to what this deeply uneasy, and somehow perfect, pop album is doing. [CRJ]
Listen to Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’ [Polydor] here

The 2 Bears – ‘Be Strong’ [Southern Fried]
“Some say that music has sets you free / but all my life, my music has imprisoned me,” Raf Daddy sings on ‘Be Strong’s title track. It’s everything that’s right and wrong about his love letter, co-signed by Joe Goddard of Hot Chip, to house music. The formula is simple – a meticulously produced and melodic track is combined with some great lyrics about living, working, loving and being really into music in London. Work is straight diva house about graft, Heart Of the Congos recalls DJ Rush, and the aforementioned title song is a great, heads-down deep house track Larry Heard would be proud of. If the album has a fault, its reverence for dance music gets in the way of the sheer abandon of the best house. Despite (or because of) the size of their combined record collection, ‘Be Strong’ occasionally strays toward witty homage than over hedonistic adventure. Tellingly, the final track, Church, a lovely song about waking up next next to someone you really fancy set to steel-drums and some nice twinkles, is also the one which wears its influences lightest. But this quibble aside, ‘Be Strong’ is still a charming, funny album, full of clever, fun pop music. As the album fades to Raf’s chanting “Hey now, let’s get up together”, it’s a reminder that jokes often tell the truth. [CRJ]
Listen to The 2 Bears’ ‘Be Strong’ [Southern Fried] here

We Have Band – ‘Ternion’ [Naive]
Three is the magic number for We Have Band, the London trio of Darren Bancroft, Dede Wegg-Prosser and Thomas Wegg-Prosser. The three musicians take it in turns to lead vocals, there are three words in their tongue-in-cheek name and their new album is titled with the Latin word for a company of three. ‘Ternion’ finds the band in deliciously taut form, building angular vocal melodies that splinter thrillingly. While a new wave darkness has crept in to replace the bouncy electro of their 2010 debut ‘WHB’, tracks like Where Are Your People, Tired Of Running and Watertight hold as urgent a dancefloor pull as ever. Final track Pressure On stands alone with its sweet, slow release, perhaps already hinting at chapter three. [RS]
Listen to We Have Band’s ‘Ternion’ [Naive] here

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