But maybe shining a harsh light on the ridiculousness of seduction—and its often-frustrating payoff when it does work—is part of the point, part of the Lana Del Rey Project being attributed to her by so many members of the commentariat. The album has an overwhelming feeling of anhedonia, even though its trappings telegraph glamour; while the likes of Kanye West and Del Rey's labelmate Lady Gaga have been more than happy to let the hoi polloi know that the good life ain't all it's cracked up to be, Born To Die has little evidence that it can be any good at all.

At least, not until "This Is What Makes Us Girls" ends with Del Rey leaving her pals behind, "cryin' cause I know I'm never comin' back" but vowing to her friends that "it's all going to happen." That it closes the standard edition of the album offers a small spark of hope; it brings to mind the end of the similarly disaffected girlhood chronicle Ghost World, when the heroine hops a bus out of town in order to see what the world beyond the life she has already lived might have to offer. And it's incredibly appropriate here, because Born To Die is an album with the timeless pop question "Is that all there is?" lurking, obviously and ominously, behind its every moan and underneath each reheated Sneaker Pimps beat. Whether or not the vicious cycle of bloggability allows Del Rey to explore the answer to that question on a second album is, of course, another story.

What it feels like: Lana Del Rey
Interscope/Chuck Grant
What it feels like: Lana Del Rey

mjohnston@villagevoice.com

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