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The maelstrom of hype surrounding self-modeled Hollywood pop star Lana Del Rey's 2012 breakthrough album, Born to Die, found critics, listeners, and pop culture aficionados divided about her detached, hyper-stylized approach to every aspect of her music and public persona. What managed to get overlooked by many was that Born to Die made such a polarizing impression because it actually offered something that didn't sound like anything else. Del Rey's sultry, overstated orchestral pop recast her as some sort of vaguely imagined chanteuse for a generation raised on Adderall and the Internet, with heavy doses of Twin Peaks atmosphere adding a creepy sheen to intentionally vapid (and undeniably catchy) radio hits. Follow-up album Ultraviolence shifts gears considerably, building a thick, slow-moving atmosphere with its languid songs and opulent arrangements. Gone are the big beats and glossy production that resulted in tracks like "Summertime Sadness." Instead, Ultraviolence begins with the protracted, rolling melancholia of "Cruel World," nearly seven minutes of what feels like a sad, reverb-drenched daydream. The song sets the stage for the rest of the album, which simmers with a haunted, yearning feeling but never boils over. Even the most pop-friendly moments here are steeped in patient, jazz-inflected moodiness, as with the sad-eyed longing of "Shades of Cool" or the unexpected tempo changes that connect the slinky verses of single "West Coast" to their syrupy, swaying choruses. Production from the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach might have something to do with the metered restraint that permeates the album, with songs like "Sad Girl" carrying some of the slow-burning touches of greasy blues-rock Auerbach is known for. A few puzzling moments break up the continuity of the album. The somewhat hooky elements of "Brooklyn Baby" can't quite rise above its disjointed song structure and cringeable lyrics that could be taken either as mockery of the hipster lifestyle or self-parody. "Money Power Glory" steps briefly out of the overall dreamscape of the album, sounding like a tossed-off outtake from the Born to Die sessions. Despite these mild missteps, Ultraviolence thrives for the most part in its density, meant clearly to be absorbed as an entire experience, with even its weaker pieces contributing to a mood that's consumptive, sexy, and as eerie as big-budget pop music gets. Del Rey's loudest detractors criticized her music as a hollow, cliché-ridden product designed by the music industry and lacking the type of substance that makes real pop stars pop. Ultraviolence asserts that as a songwriter, she has complete control of her craft, deciding on songs far less flashy or immediate but still uniquely captivating. As these songs shift her sound into more mature and nuanced places, it becomes clear that every deadpan affectation, lispy lyric, and overblown allusion to desperate living has been a knowing move in the creation of the strange, beguiling character -- and sonic experience -- we know as Lana Del Rey.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/17/2014
Label: Interscope Records
UPC: 0602537865413
catalogNumber: 002095002
Rank: 234


  1. Cruel World
  2. Ultraviolence
  3. Shades of Cool
  4. Brooklyn Baby
  5. West Coast
  6. Sad Girl
  7. Pretty When You Cry
  8. Money Power Glory
  9. ****** My Way Up to the Top
  10. Old Money
  11. The Other Woman

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Lana Del Rey   Primary Artist,Vocals,Background Vocals
Greg Kurstin   Guitar,Drums,Bass Guitar,Keyboards
Ann McCrary   Background Vocals
Russ Pahl   Acoustic Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar,Electric Guitar
Kenny Vaughan   Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Mellotron
Max Weissenfeldt   Drums,Hand Clapping
Dan Auerbach   Synthesizer,Electric Guitar,Hand Clapping,Shaker,Guitar (12 String Acoustic)
Alfreda McCrary Lee   Background Vocals
Nick Movshon   Electric Bass,Drums,Hand Clapping,Upright Bass
Regina McCrary   Background Vocals
Seth Kauffman   Synthesizer,Percussion,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping,Omnichord
Collin Dupuis   Synthesizer
Leon Michaels   Synthesizer,Percussion,Piano,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Tambourine,Mellotron,Hand Clapping
Brian Griffin   Drums
Blake Stranathan   Guitar

Technical Credits

Greg Kurstin   Composer,Producer
Rick Nowels   Composer,Vocal Producer
Jessie Mae Robinson   Composer
Kieron Menzies   Vocal Engineer
Dan Auerbach   Producer
Daniel Heath   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Alex Pasco   Engineer
Milton Gutierrez   Engineer
Matthew McGaughey   Orchestration
Collin Dupuis   Engineer,drum programming
Lee Foster   Producer
Phil Joly   Engineer
Ed Millett   Management
Lana Del Rey   Composer,Producer
Ben Mawson   Management
Julian Burg   Engineer
Blake Stranathan   Composer,Producer
Barrie O'Neill   Composer
Robbie Fitzsimmons   Composer
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