Thursday, April 24, 2014

TRACK REVIEW: "Wes Coast" by Lana Del Rey - A Starry Eyed Polaroid Resurrection

Lana Del Rey is a mystifying presence. She seems to anger some people who consider her to be style over substance and others who wish she would lighten up. Some decry what they consider to be her air of self importance. Others seem to be put off by persona, her facade, her false name. All this drama set aside, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant partnered with talented co-writers and producers puts out some truly engaging songs. The single "West Coast" from her recently released "Ultraviolence" album is no exception. Penned by Del Rey and Grammy award winning songwriter Rick Nowels, it is a seductive dreamy escapade. Wrapped in a cool lush vibe, producer Dan Auerbach amps up the late 70's / early 80's slow burn drug haze feel. The opening drum sound and fill is simply delicious as is the spartan guitar work during the verse progression establishing a sultry feel. Lana Del Rey, once again plays the broken starlet in a tortured love play. She sings, "Down on The West Coast, they got a sayin' if you're not drinkin' then you're not playin'" and it plays like the opening lines in a Raymond Chandler novel. A popular music critic who does not share my enthusiasm for "West Coast" derided this opening lyric, sarcastically saying, "they don't say thaaat".  Maybe they don't but as far as I know Ziggy never played with "Weird" and "Gilly" either. Lana Del Rey may or may not be a character but her songs certainly feel like works of fiction (or more accurately pulp fiction) as inspired by real events or emotions.

"West Coast" like many of Del Rey's songs is heavily steeped in nostalgic sort of 50's angst of James Dean like proportions. She as the author, is essentially creating these immorality plays full of bad boys, bad girls and broken hearts. Musical lost weekends. These sonic melodramas are fun to immerse yourself into. "West Coast" is full of hooks but it doesn't necessarily play it safe either. After the deep cool groove that is established in the verses, the chorus plunges into a slow motion dreamy vibe set off of a chunky hollow body guitar riff that sounds like a keyed up version of the "And I Love Her" riff by The Beatles. It is a daring, brilliant choice thematically. It feels like sudden memories flooding in as a bed of Lana vocals sweep you up, "I can see my baby swingin'... His parliament's on fire and his hands are up... On the balcony and I'm singing...Ooh baby, Ooh baby, I'm in love..."  There is more lyrics to the chorus but this is best heard not read.

"West Coast" like a lot of Lana Del Rey's songs creates a nostalgic vibe. Black and white dreams where the hero or heroine of the story survives but walks away a little worse for wear, a little sadder, a little older. You may not feel anything or see any images as you listen to "West Coast" but if you do they will most likely be long lost memories that rise slowly like shaken Polaroid resurrections.
Robb Donker

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