Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Song Review - West Coast

West Coast
by Lana Del Rey
Album: Ultraviolence (TBA, 2014)

You might think that Lana Del Rey has released a new single about your fave budget bubbly in a bottle, West Coast Cooler but you'd be wrong. Well not totally. There is mention of a saying on the west coast where drinking equals playing and I imagine the only drink available in Perth is West Coast Cooler... Wait! I've just been informed I'm referring to the wrong west coast. Eh!

So Lana is one of those musicians with love or hate sensibilities that I've never seemed to join the party on. I don't hate her, in fact I enjoy some of her previous tunes but then I don't love her because some of her other tunes really irritate me so I'm happy to stay here on the fence mostly. When the buzz of her new single hit I was doing something I thought to be more interesting at the time but then a friend said, "Like dude you totes have to get into this tune like it's so good that I just can't. I can't even!" (that's how Lana fans talk duh) so I like totes gave it a listen and you know what? I LIKE IT!

The first couple of seconds in immediately made me think of that awful Paris Hilton song that I thought I'd forgotten with it's loosely reminiscent reggae vibe however it quickly transitions into something, dare I say sexy. Something sexy like a version of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Games'. It even shares a similar video shot beautifully in B&W, it's the usual convincingly romantic *cough* affair of two frisky young pups frolicking on a beach; Del Rey and the "too beautiful to be bad, blonde locked, leather jacket clad, too rough to be good" kind of guy looking longingly and writhing coyly around each other. I'm not clocking it as an appropriation of 'Wicked Games', more of the way Shania Twain reworked the clip of Robert Palmers 'Simply Irresistible', though maybe less deliberate.

'West Coast' is actually a rather soft and beautifully dark story of youthful desire in a world where status and possession means as much as the emotion and when approached from a neutral ground her poetry, though simple, can appreciated. Del Rey in this 90s surf rock inspired number vocally transitions along with the undulating tempo, from a silver screen starlet-esque voiced goddess to that languid, breathy damsel in distress character she plays so well, but apparently 'West Coast' has been polarising even amongst die hard fans. I'm not the the most ardent fan to ask why but it seems at least for me this song that feels like an early 90s throwback draws me in and almost (not quite all there) makes me feel part of her world. Maybe that's why I've never dived into Lana's pool because she's never quite sold me anything convincing as her music can sometimes seem contrived. However even though some of my comments may feel a little critical I actually really like 'West Coast'. If previous haters can put away their prejudices against Lana they'll find a tantalisingly simple broken love song. If previous fans finding themselves polarised can take their minds out of the neon-retro landscapes of Del Rey's previous affairs they will find a bittersweet film-noir tinged journey through youthful love/loss transitions.

Nayt Housman gives 'West Coast' four PJ Harvey heads out of five...

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