Lana Del Rey, “Born to Die.” I initially found reason to be annoyed by the artifice of Lana Del Rey’s ostensibly focus-group-tested Amy Winehouse-meets-Betty Draper image, and yet still marveled at the effortless way in which “Video Games” established her as America’s new, enigmatic indie-pop diva who might or might not be faking the streetwise starlet act. “Born to Die,” the title track from Del Rey’s debut (out next month on Interscope), does nothing to ease my internal conflict. The song is unhurried and trippy and cavernous in that retro-baroque way we’ve come to expect from her, like Nancy Sinatra singing over a slow-burning Portishead tune, and retains all the misery and beauty of Del Rey’s star-crossed persona. The track doesn’t necessarily answer the burning question of who Del Rey is or isn’t supposed to be, but that’s probably irrelevant at this point: Like its singer, “Born to Die” is intended to be a maddening, contradictory, and gorgeous riddle fueled by the excess and tragedies of twentysomething fame, and to that end, it succeeds wildly. Kevin Liedel
The Dodos, “So Cold.” San Francisco psyche-folk twosome the Dodos’ “So Cold” is a clever breakup song that evokes images of a soon-to-be-ex as a descending avalanche of sorts, chasing its forsaken lover down a mountainside while regrets weigh heavily on the mind: “Are you too great to call back?” asks singer Meric Long, almost rhetorically. Percussionist Logan Kroeber’s kinetic backbeat lifts the song’s rugged guitar hook and Long’s steady vocals to lofty heights. “You knocked me out” is one of the closing lines, and it not only encapsulates the feelings of the number’s protagonist, but also the listener. Mike LeChevallier
The Black Keys, “Little Black Submarines.” “Little Black Submarines,” a track from the Black Keys’ El Camino (out tomorrow), is structured like a professional wrestling match. The first two minutes find Dan Auerbach in familiar form, which is to say weary and staggering, bereaved by an egregious string of bum raps and low blows that life’s referee has inexplicably been too distracted to call. “Everybody knows that a broken heart is blind,” he harps, reaching for the ropes. And just when the hero would appear on the brink of collapse, the guitars go electric and in swings Auerbach’s proverbial sidekick on a zip line. Together Akron’s bruising blues brothers deliver dropkick after dropkick, pummeling their way out of impending tragedy—or at least an upset—and staging the kind of comeback rock dramatists might call an “Achilles last stand.” M. Sean Ryan
Chairlift, “Met Before.” Following the lead single, “Amanaemonesia,” Brooklyn duo Chairlift unveiled another track from their sophomore effort (due out early next year) last week. The lyrics are über-silly (“Was that you on the screen or just in line for the movie?” singer Caroline Polachek muses), but the song’s hook is explosive and the reverb-y guitars, rollicking drum line, and expansive sheets of metallic keyboard synths are downright euphoric. With its earworm melodies and “ba-da-ba-ba-ba” vocal breakdown, “Met Before” sounds like an homage to ’60s pop by a synth-pop band from the ’80s. Sal Cinquemani
House Playlist is a series dedicated to highlighting our favorite new singles, leaked songs, and album tracks.