Sunday, February 19, 2012

Album Review: Lana Del Rey and Emeli Sande

Lana Del Rey - Born to Die (4/5). It's a double edged sword having an unearthly amount of hype surrounding an artist before the release of their debut album. With only predeceasing singles as an indicator to the sound of the forthcoming album and expectations rocket high, it's no wonder the artist in question always seem to falter at the first hurdle, even if the material isn't necessarily bad, but within the context of the "hype" does feels rather underwhelming. American singer/song-writer Lana Del Rey's debut single "Video Games" a dark, whimsical ballad encompassing a vintage aura certainly sparked an intrigue, earning itself a positive reception among critics was a breath of fresh air within the midst of electro-pop and Adele. The prominent atmosphere with the album is very somber, disquieting and downbeat--she rarely lets up. "Born to Die," "Dark Paradise," "Video Games," "Radio" and personal favorite "Million Dollar Man" are some of the standout "downers" of the album--almost encompassing the reality detachment of Florence + The Machine without the intrigue. When Lana does let loose, the results are a little uneven, the guitar-driven, drum-backed and string laden "Off to the Races" and the celebratory, hollowing orchestration drenched "National Anthem" are quirky and good fun however "Blue Jeans" which harbours more prominent guitars and is a little too dreary and depressing despite the lovelorn lyrics. This is a decent album--it could have been a stronger set, a little more cohesive but there are some highlights. Best: Born to Die, Million Dollar Man, Video Games, Radio, National Anthem, Off to the Races

Emeli Sande - Our Version of Events (4/5). After the brilliant drum and bass, trip-hop influenced debut single "Heaven," and her fantastic hook on Professor Green's hit "Read All About It," British singer Emeli Sande's debut album has definitely been heavily anticipated. With Our Version of Events, her sound is trimmed from a satisfying mix of pop, soul and R&B tied together with some acoustic influences. The dramatic piano pop of "My Kind of Love" showcases the bold dynamic of Sande's vocal, particularly on its blustery chorus which sounds awesome on top of the subtle drum beats. However, she also illustrates some vocal subtly on "Mountains" (a track that apparently written by Sande for X Factor winner Leona Lewis). It's fantastic, a softening production--lovely acoustic guitar, percussion and poignant piano keys. She matches both sutly, boldness and heartfelt emotion on the dramatic balladry of "Clown."There are some that hit bum notes, such as the underwhelming vocal performance of "Piano," a downbeat number backed with strings, drums and acoustic guitars but seems to resonate on one note throughout. The jaunty piano-strung pop of "Next to Me" is a clear highlight. The album ends on a subtle note with the melodic, politcal pop of "Hope." Similar to Born to Die, this could have been a stronger set--there seems to an equal balance of tracks that hit the nail on the end ones that hit with a thud, however Die I feel they're more likely to grow on me. Best: Heaven, Next to Me, Clwon, Mountains, My Kind of Love, Hope, Lifetime

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