Her dark par­adise

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music - Re­views by CH­ESTER CHIN

Lana Del Rey Lust For Life Uni­ver­sal

IT’S the end of the world, as Lana Del Rey knows it. Though the lead sin­gle of the singer’s fourth ma­jor-la­bel re­lease would’ve had you think­ing oth­er­wise.

When Love was re­leased ear­lier in the year, the lux­u­ri­ous torch song saw the for­mer Lizzy Grant chan­nelling un­char­ac­ter­is­tic op­ti­mism. It’s an atyp­i­cal mes­sage from Del Rey (“It’s enough to be young and in love”), who over the course of her past three al­bums, has been singing about love as a sub­ject of two ex­tremes – a hope­less ad­dic­tion and a per­verse masochism tool.

“It’s go­ing to be a hap­pier al­bum,” fans thought while wait­ing for the record’s re­lease.

Well, that de­pends on how you de­fine “happy”. To an ex­tent, Del Rey has never sounded as buoy­ant as she does on Lust For Life – even when she’s singing about the end of the world.

“Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of Amer­ica?” the 32-year-old asks in When The World Was At War We Kept Danc­ing, over ghostly melodies, be­fore vow­ing to stay strong in the face of ad­ver­sity.

Whether or not the track is a jab at Don­ald Trump is up for con­tention. But Del Rey did lead a call-to-battle via Twit­ter back in Fe­bru­ary to oust the US Pres­i­dent from of­fice through witch­craft. In fact, the sec­ond half of Lust

For Life is heavy on worldly is­sues.

Brood­ing midtempo bal­lad Coachella – Wood­stock In My Mind has Del Rey wor­ry­ing about a mu­sic fes­ti­val crowd’s chil­dren – and their chil­dren’s chil­dren – as nu­clear ten­sion rises in North Korea.

Mean­while, God Bless Amer­ica – And All The Beau­ti­ful Women In It has eu­phoric-tinged gen­der equal­ity writ­ten all over its dreamy ar­range­ments.

The 16-track col­lec­tion also marks the first time Del Rey opens up her stu­dio to guests, each high­light­ing the al­bum’s hall­mark gen­res: hip-hop (The Weeknd on the ti­tle track/ A$AP Rocky on Sum­mer Bum­mer and

Groupie Love) and folk (Stevie Nicks on Beau­ti­ful Peo­ple Beau­ti­ful Prob­lems/ Sean Ono Len­non on To­mor­row Never Came).

But the most gleam­ing num­bers are when Del Rey stands on her own (the sim­ple bal­lad Change and rous­ing al­bum closer Get

Free), ac­com­pa­nied by ethe­real and haunt­ing mu­sic. Else­where, slow-burn­ing 13 Beaches and sen­sual Cherry trawl that cin­e­matic sound­scape that made past re­leases like Young And Beau­ti­ful and

Hon­ey­moon in­stant clas­sics. At al­most 75-minute long, there’s a grand am­bi­tion to Lust

For Life that at­tests to Del Rey’s ge­nius. But judg­ing from that con­tented smile on the al­bum cover, she prob­a­bly al­ready knows that.

Lee Hy­ori Black Kiwi Me­dia Group

TO­WARDS the end of 2015, first­gen­er­a­tion K-pop su­per­star Lee Hy­ori de­cided to take a break from the glitz and glam­our of the South Korean en­ter­tain­ment scene.

Al­most two years later and about four years af­ter her last ful­l­length ef­fort Monochrome, the for­mer Fin.K.L. mem­ber is tak­ing an­other stab at fame with her sixth stu­dio al­bum.

The record has more of an al­ter­na­tive flair, with songs that me­an­der along folksy rock and ex­per­i­men­tal hip hop. Al­bum opener Seoul shows that the time away has been spent on cre­ative growth. The laid­back first track is a good in­tro­duc­tion to a rein­vented pop­star. Here, the songstress sings about the con­trast be­tween cos­mopoli­tan and coun­try life.

That ma­ture songcraft (Hy­ori wrote and com­posed the bulk of songs) is a far cry from the sexy singer who once boasted that she could se­duce a guy in 10 min­utes. But the Cheong­won na­tive proves that she can still do sul­try, ev­i­dent on the ti­tle track and White Snake.

The song Black has a hint of bluesy coun­try notes with the pluck­ing of gui­tars and Western movie-es­que melodies.

That bold ex­per­i­men­ta­tion doesn’t ap­ply to the re­main­ing songs on the 12-track col­lec­tion, though. The trop­i­cal Love Me starts off with a promis­ing reg­gae-in­spired tune but be­comes a lazy EDM mess at the cho­rus. That electronic as­pi­ra­tion is also sorely mis­in­ter­preted on Mute that fea­tures a hook that sounds like some­thing re­jected by The Chainsmok­ers.

The bal­lads here – with the ex­cep­tion of the ten­der Di­a­mond ,a duet with Lee Juck – are too bland for their own good. But one gets a sense that Hy­ori is per­fectly com­fort­able be­ing low-key at this point of her ca­reer. That con­fi­dence is some­thing that only a sea­soned en­ter­tainer who’s per­fectly com­fort­able in her own skin can muster.

LANY LANY Poly­dor

OH, to be young and love­struck is such a won­der­ful thing – or at least, that’s what LANY wants you to be­lieve on this self-ti­tled de­but.

The Cal­i­for­nian trio crafts the kind of wist­ful love songs that the H&M-wear­ing crowd would save on their per­son­alised Spo­tify playlists in a heart­beat.

On this 16-track record, the three-piece act – com­pris­ing lead vo­cal­ist Paul Klein, drum­mer Jake Goss and key­boardist Les Priest – serves min­i­mal­is­tic pop gems with shim­mer­ing melodies and sparkling synths.

Lead sin­gle ILYSB taps into that hope­lessly-de­voted-to-you psy­che with a text mes­sag­ing lex­i­con (ILYSB = I Love You So Bad). That pair­ing of heart-on-sleeves lyrics and pol­ished synths is a hit-ormiss kind of ef­fort, though.

On more ebul­lient num­bers such as opener Dumb Stuff, Flow­ers On The Floor and Good Girls, those emo­tional dec­la­ra­tions are of­ten drowned amid an ex­cess of electronic melodies.

But LANY man­ages to strike a bal­ance be­tween vul­ner­a­ble lyri­cism and gorgeous synths on the slower num­bers. Her­i­cane wal­lows in de­li­ciously sen­ti­men­tal words that float over lush electronic ar­range­ment.

Else­where, ef­fer­ves­cent tracks like Su­per Far, Over­time and 13 con­tinue to un­der­line the trio’s pur­suit of beau­ti­ful electronic-brushed odes that sweep through the stages of love lost and love found as ex­pe­ri­enced by mil­len­ni­als.

Photo: Uni­ver­sal

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